Jury selection is expected to begin this morning in Davidson County Criminal Court in suspected truck stop serial killer Bruce Mendenhall’s murder for hire trial.
Mendenhall, 58, is facing five counts of solicitation of murder for allegedly hatching a plot to have five people killed, including the Metro police detectives responsible for his arrest.
The Illinois over-the-road truck driver was behind bars on charges stemming from the June 2007 murder of Sara Nicole Hulbert when police say he approached a fellow inmate in an attempt to arrange for the murders.
Judge Steve Dozier ruled in the fall that prosecutors will be allowed to use parts of wire-tapped conversations between Mendenhall and inmate Ray Lucas McLaughlin.
Public Defender Dawn Deaner had petitioned the court to bar a jury from hearing those conversations, arguing the material was a violation of Mendenhall’s right to counsel and to avoid self-incrimination.
Dozier disagreed, but ruled that the jury will not hear any talks about Mendenhall’s murder charge.
Mendenhall has been behind bars since July 12, 2007, when Metro detectives investigating the Hulbert murder spotted a truck matching the description of one seen the day her body was discovered.
Metro detectives Lee Freeman and Pat Postiglione followed it to the same north Nashville truck stop where the victim was found. While talking with the driver, they noticed blood inside the cabin and arrested Mendenhall.
In addition to Freeman and Postiglione, prosecutors say Mendenhall allegedly asked McLaughlin to arrange the death’s of three acquaintances – Laurie Young, Richie Kiem and David Powell.
Prosecutors plan to bring Mendenhall to trial for Hulbert’s murder following the solicitation trial.
He has also been charged in Wilson County for the June 2007 murder of Symantha Winters, 48, whose body was found in a trash can at a truck stop in Lebanon. Authorities believe he is also responsible for murders in Georgia, Alabama and Indiana.
More stories about Mendenhall are available at this link.