Alleged serial killer tries to quash evidence in murder-for-hire trial

Friday, October 30, 2009 at 7:08pm

Suspected serial killer Bruce Mendenhall was in Davidson County Criminal Court this afternoon for an evidence suppression hearing leading up to his trial on charges he tried to have five individuals killed from jail.

In the hearing, held before Judge Steven Dozier, defense attorneys argued for the suppression of recorded phone calls and prison letters sent to and from Mendenhall while he was incarcerated on charges stemming from the June 2007 killing of Sara Nicole Hulbert, 25.

Of more than 490 letters and phones calls, prosecutors want to include 24 letters and eight phone calls in the current murder-for-hire trial.

Public defenders Dawn Deaner and Jason Gichner argued the communications prosecutors hope to put into evidence are germane to Mendenhall's trial on murder charges, not the current solicitation trial, and are therefore prejudicial to the defendant.

The letters, sections of which were read in court Friday by Metro Detective Lee Freeman, offer insight into Mendenhall's state of mind as he struggled to account for his whereabouts during the alleged killing of Hulbert.

The letters, dated between January 2008 and early 2009, were addressed to friends, family, and a group of five pen pals that had contacted the suspected killer while he was in jail. Throughout the letters, Mendenhall makes repeated references to his need for an alibi for the night Hulbert disappeared. He presses friends and family to look for individuals who might have seen him on the date in question.

“Unless I get some alibis, I'm done,” Mendenhall wrote to his now-deceased wife.

“The only way to beat this system here is with some alibis,” he writes in another.

“I will get the death penalty for sure unless some alibis start popping up,” said one.

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Sobrero argued the continued reference to an alibi shows Mendenhall's increasingly desperate state of mind. With no witnesses to collaborate an alibi, Mendenhall's next step was to try and arrange in jail for the deaths of Metro police detectives Freeman and Pat Postiglione and witnesses Laurie Young, Richie Keim and David Powell, she argued.

Judge Dozier decided to take the arguments into consideration and will make a ruling at a later date.