Jailhouse letter introduced in Hunt trial
CENTREVILLE — The third day of the state’s case against 41-year-old Theron Hunt centered on a letter Hunt may or may not have written while in St. Joseph County Jail while awaiting trial for his role in the death of Kevin Johnson, a Kentucky truck driver who was shot and killed on Nov. 15, 2018 in Flowerfield Township.
The letter was introduced Thursday during the testimony of Bryanna Bradford, a correctional officer at St. Joseph County Jail, who said she found the letter on top of a payphone inside a cell where Hunt, along with “five to seven” others, were lodged at the jail. Bradford said after completing her cell check she heard a man who sounded like Hunt say, “I need that note. I need that back, I need that back.” Bradford walked back up the cellblock and when she reached Hunt’s cell he allegedly knocked on the window and said, “I need that note back,” to which she responded, “I’m just going to throw it away.” Hunt replied, “Oh, you’re awesome, thanks. I really appreciate that.”
After considering the interaction for a moment Bradford decided the note, which she has never read, must have contained something important.
“At this point I’m thinking, ‘Man, there’s something in this note,’” she said. “Again I didn’t know — I still don’t know what was in that note — I threw it in the booking office, finished my check, came back and by the time I came back from my check the sergeant, my shift sergeant (had already taken it.)”
The letter eventually made its way to Road Patrol Sgt. Timothy Barnes of the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, who asked Bradford to make a report about what had occurred. Prosecutor John McDonough asked Bradford whether Hunt ever indicated it was his note, and Bradford said Hunt never did. However, Bradford said she did recognize Hunt’s handwriting based on other documents Hunt had written on during his time in jail.
When McDonough asked to submit the letter into evidence defense attorney T.J. Reed objected, contending it wasn’t clear who wrote the letter, and just because Bradford was familiar with Hunt’s handwriting doesn’t make her a handwriting expert. After the jury was asked to leave the courtroom while Judge Paul Stutesman considered the matter, Stutesman instructed Sgt. Barnes, who reviewed the letter previously and was giving his testimony at the time, to read the letter out of the jury’s earshot.
The letter, addressed to McBoofin — a nickname attributed to Hunt’s co-defendant Tyler McNeil by a previous witness, and who remains lodged in St. Joseph County Jail with Hunt — contains a number of expletives and comments that are sexual in nature.
It reads as follows:
“Bro, I’m sorry I just got the police reports and statements. (Kayla) is trying to cook us both bro, man I’m sorry Tyler. On my life I’m changing my statement Wednesday when I go to court. On my life I got you. You will see bro, on my kids bro I got you. We have to say that I went there to sell a fake bag for a couple hundred to make up for them not paying me for my machete. I stole the duct tape from the gas station to fix the trunk lid that was not closing and Kayla had other plans for it.
“The main thing bro is that we went there with intentions of only selling a fake bag of ice, and Kayla did that crazy (expletive). She is the one that stole and took that stuff from the girl. We told her to stop but she made you help her. I didn’t take anything from the house, only the money the lady in the truck gave me, and a phone in the truck but nothing from the house. Kayla said that they owed her man John Patterson a lot of money.
“Don’t say nothing on the phones bro. They are listening to our shit at all times bro, trust me. And everything we say as on the phones is recorded. Please don’t say anything on the phone about us talking bro, they will use it against us. Just keep playing it like we’re beefing bro. We can beat these (expletive)s at their own game bro. They just want to send us away forever bro.
“On my life, (expletive) that (expletive), bro, she is hit but we can do this bro and be in a way better position. Remember I went there only to sell a fake bag of ice, Kayla kicked off that (expletive) on her own. She kept saying that they owed her boss/ man John Patterson a lot of money. We kept telling her to stop and leave her alone. Bro, Kayla grabbed that (expletive)’s (vulgarity) and she tried blaming it on me. WTF.
“If we stick to this this brah there ain’t no way they can convict us of the murder. Our intent was only to sell a fake bag of ice that’s it. The only reason you had the gun is because Romey crazy (expletive) was trying to kill us both like he did in Niles at Walmart. That is the only reason you had it in case Romey popped up. We had no intention of robbing at all only to sell a fake bag of ice, Kayla was there for some personal (expletive) for John Paterson from Niles, leader of the Patriots biker gang. Kayla grabbed that nasty (expletive)’s (vulgarity) not me bro.
“I love you bro.
“On my life I got you. Hit me back if you want me to change some (expletive), we got theses (expletive)s beat bro, we got to stick together or were (expletive) d. Don’t say (expletive) on the phone, they are listening at all times. They pushed my preliminary back three times, I wish you didn’t waive yours. Ask your lawyer if ya’ll can put a motion in and have your preliminary.
“Love you bro, hit me back.”
Ultimately Stutesman ruled that the letter was admissible, and allowed the letter into evidence.
The trial will resume today at 8:30 a.m.