Appeals court affirms truck stop killer's 2010 murder conviction

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:17pm

Convicted tuck-stop killer Bruce D. Mendenhall has lost an appeal of his 2010 conviction on premeditated first-degree murder.

Mendenhall appealed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals nearly a year ago, arguing that the Davidson County Criminal Court erred by not suppressing certain evidence including items found in his truck, statements he made to police and evidence of him soliciting the murders of others.

A Davidson County Criminal Court jury convicted Mendenhall as charged in May 2010 for the June 2007 killing of 25-year-old Sara Hulbert.

A significant part of Mendenhall’s appeal on that murder conviction centered on his first encounter with police when homicide detective Sgt. Pat Postiglione confronted him at the same Truck Stops of America truck stop near LP Field where Hulbert was found dead.

In its opinion filed Wednesday, the appeals court found that police interviews and investigation were properly conducted, and that evidence — including submitted crime scene photos of Hulbert’s nude body and gunshot wound — was presented appropriately in regard to the case.

The opinion of the court, delivered by Judge Thomas T. Woodall reads, “We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the photographs into evidence. We agree with the trial court’s finding that the autopsy photographs are not unduly gruesome and were relevant to show the victim’s injuries.”

While Mendenhall was jailed and awaiting trial on the murder charge police also he was charged with five counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder and was tried and convicted of three of those counts. The appeals court has affirmed that decision on appeal as well.

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