It's been settled. Accused killer Jeffrey Chapman will wear a turtleneck at his murder trial to cover up what his attorney calls a "Redrum" tattoo.
A spokeswoman for the Kansas Supreme Court tells FactFinder 12 an agreement was reached last Friday between prosecutors and Chapman's attorney and the trial was rescheduled for August.
Today, when reached by email for further comment, defense attorney Kurt Kerns scolded the media for "misreporting" the issue and said it had been "blown out of proportion".
Kerns wrote: "This was the worst example of the media creating an issue out of a
non- issue I've seen in 22 years of practicing law."
He added, "Nobody bothered to check the facts or attend court. The story was based entirely on the court pleadings, and then the pleadings themselves were distorted to create juicy stuff out of a standard request."
Kerns went on to say the tattoo actually spells the word "Redrum", which he says is a reference to a brand of rum sold in liquor stores.
"We brought a bottle of Redrum to court and explained the tattoo at the hearing (last Friday) nobody- including the local paper- attended," he wrote in the email.
Eyewitness News learned of Chapman's request Tuesday. We didn't report the turtleneck agreement or the Redrum explanation at that time because we didn't know about them. And here's why.
Nowhere in the public documents available is there a reference to the turtleneck.
Friday, Kansas Supreme Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor, acting on behalf of Barton County wrote us to say, "No court document existed to reflect the parties’ agreement that the defendant would wear a turtleneck. However, it would be part of the court record captured by the court reporter, but that record has not been transcribed."
When Eyewitness News called Kern Tuesday and left a message with a person at his office, he never returned the call. And when we talked to prosecutors in Barton County Tuesday, they would only refer us to the court filings.
As for the Redrum explanation, without knowing of the hearing, we relied on Kerns's own motion, which repeatedly referred to the writing on Chapman's neck as a "murder" tattoo. And Kerns acknowledges "redrum" is murder spelled backward.
FactFinder 12 twice asked Kerns to sit down for an interview Friday and he declined. He said "Directing additional attention to an agreed upon irrelevant and prejudicial fact, only serves to frustrate the very purpose of the motion itself, and my client's interest in a fair trial."
Here is the full text of Kerns's email to Eyewitness News:
"The whole issue has been misreported and blown out of proportion
from the outset, as nobody actually covered the court hearing.
There never was any dispute.The motion was withdrawn and agreement reached without argument.
Nobody ever asked that the state pay for a tattoo removal nor was any tattoo done backwards so Jeffrey could look in a mirror. Both claims are complete fabrications.
The tattoo was based on a rum product sold in stores called "Redrum."
This was the worst example of the media creating an issue out of a
non- issue I've seen in 22 years of practicing law.
Nobody bothered to check the facts or attend Court.
The story was based entirely on the court pleadings, and then the pleadings themselves were distorted to create juicy stuff out of a standard request.
That is the entirety of my comment. Somehow I doubt it will be ran."
Kerns then sent a second email in response to our inquiries about why his own court filing referred to a "murder" tattoo:
"Because the local media in Great Bend wrote stories early on calling it a murder tattoo we used the same language and indeed it says murder backwards. We brought a bottle of Redrum to court and explained the tattoo at the hearing nobody- including the local paper- attended.
As much as I, and every lawyer I know, love to be on TV - my duty is to my client. Directing additional attention to an agreed upon irrelevant and prejudicial fact, only serves to frustrate the very purpose of the motion itself, and my client's interest in a fair trial."