The scheduled jury trial got underway for Bobby L. Hammonds, 41 years old of McKee, KY on Monday, February 10th, 2020. The court convened early Monday morning and began the process of jury selection. In 2018 a grand jury indictment implicated Bobby Hammonds and Terry Lee Hammonds, 42, of McKee in the deaths of Whitney Sparks Venable, 28, and Joey Ray Marcum, 35. Both were found dead in a burned car on Rock Lick Road on December 28th, 2017. Bobby Hammonds was arrested on the afternoon of Friday, April 27th, 2018 and has been lodged in the Jackson County Detention Center, charged with two counts of “Murder”. Terry Hammonds eluded capture for a couple of weeks but was subsequently arrested on May 11th, 2018. Both remain in custody at the Jackson County Detention Center.
According to the complaint warrant (#E05510003138872) filed in the Circuit Court Clerk’s office on April 30th, 2018, KSP Detective Adam Hall states that Bobby Hammonds murdered Joey Marcum and Whitney Venable by shooting both of them with a 30-30 rifle. The grand jury indictment against Bobby Hammonds alleges: 2 counts of murder (one for each victim), one count of Tampering with Physical Evidence (alleged attempts to destroy, mutilate, conceal, remove or alter a firearm which he knew was evidence and would be produced in an official proceeding, with the intent to impair its availability at trial), 2 counts of “abuse of a corpse” (one for each victim), and one count of arson, 1st degree for starting the fire meant to destroy or damage the vehicle occupied by the victims.
Opening statements were given Monday afternoon where the prosecution and defense attorneys laid out their positions. The trial continued on Tuesday where the jury heard testimony from Detective Adam Hall, the Medical Examiners Office and others that provided pertinent information. Testimony provided by Brian Davidson placed both victims at the scene of the crime prior to anything happening. Davidson said he was traveling on Rock Lick Road and found Marcum’s vehicle parked in the middle of the road. He described both Marcum and Venable as “not alert” appearing to be under the influence of something when he approached the car. “They looked like they were passed out in the vehicle. Joey appeared to be zoned out of his mind. The girl looked even worse,” Davidson testified. Marcum informed Davidson that he had ran out of gas and asked him to call his mother. “It was really cold and I was willing to call his mother and get him some help. Joey was kinda rough and stuff. I didn’t really trust him,” Davidson told the court.
Davidson testified that he informed detectives that he saw a dark SUV that he thought was owned by Terry Hammonds head down Rock Lick Creek Road. However, he said he didn’t hear any gun shots or see any smoke.
The court also heard from Dr. Lippencock from the Medical Examiner’s Office who performed the autopsies on both victims. She testified that Marcum’s body was badly charred and exhibited extensive damage associated with fire and heat. Toxicology tests (blood and urine tests) revealed that Marcum had levels of methamphetamine (and associated metabolites), clonazepam, diazepam, THC, and gabapentin in his system. She noted a gunshot wound to his head demonstrating an entrance wound above the left eye with an exit wound in the back of his head. She also testified that upon examination of the respiratory tract and the lungs there was no soot or discoloration of these tissues providing no indication that Marcum had inhaled extensive amounts of smoke. Based on these results she concluded that the cause of death for Joey Marcum was the gunshot to the head and that he was deceased at the time that the fire was started.
Dr. Lippencock also reported about the autopsy performed on Venable. Her body was charred to an even greater degree than Marcum’s with all the damages associated with intense heat and fire. Venable’s body was found inside the burned vehicle while Marcum’s body was located outside the vehicle. The burning vehicle may have been the reason behind the increased charring on Venable’s body. Toxicology tests (blood only) revealed methamphetamine, THC, fentanyl (a pain reliever), and gabapentin in Venable’s system. The autopsy posed unique challenges because most of Venable’s skull was missing. However, Dr. Lippencock testified that there was some portions of her brain available to examine. She found blood on the surface of the brain that she attributed to some acute trauma event. She also said she found clotted blood in the trachea and in the bronchii of the lungs. This was indicative of some trauma that occurred to the head that resulted in blood flowing down the trachea and into the lungs. This would all be consistent with a gunshot wound. In addition, she testified that she found no soot in the airways or indications that Venable had breathed significant amounts of smoke. This provided evidence that she was deceased prior to the fire. Dr. Lippencock testified that based on all the evidence gathered during the autopsy the cause of death for Venable was an unspecified traumatic injury to the head. Hammond’s trial is expected to continue for the rest of this week possibly wrapping up early next week.
In addition to Bobby Hammonds, Terry L. Hammonds, 42 years old of McKee, was also included in the indictment associated with these homicides. The indictment charges Terry Lee Hammonds with two counts of “Conspiracy to Commit Murder” (one count for each victim when he allegedly aided, counseled, or attempted to aid Bobby Lynn Hammonds in committing the offense of Murder), Tampering with Physical Evidence (alleged attempts to destroy, mutilate, conceal, remove or alter a firearm which he knew was evidence and would be produced in an official proceeding with the intent to impair its availability at trial), two counts of “Abuse of a Corpse” and “Arson 1st degree”. Terry Hammonds is also being held on a $1,000,000 cash bond. According to the Circuit Court Clerk Terry Hammonds trial isn’t scheduled till March 2020.