EASTMAN - Lee J. Kennedy is accused of attempted intentional homicide in the shooting of Jason L. Melvin in Eastman Township on Friday, October 25. Kennedy made his initial appearance in Crawford County Circuit Court on Monday, Nov. 4.
The brief court appearance and the accompanying criminal complaint shed some light on details surrounding the shooting and also raised some interesting questions.
For his part, Lee Kennedy, a Roscoe, Illinois resident, appeared before the court in a gray business suit with a trimmed haircut and beard. The defendant looked more like an attorney than the average criminal defendant in the hallway prior to the hearing. His appearance was in stark contrast to two other defendants appearing before the court in their orange jail jumpsuits and plastic sandals with their hands and feet shackled to wide leather belts that were secured around their waist.
Kennedy posted a $50,000 cash bond on Tuesday, Oct. 29 following a bond hearing last Monday.
In the days since his bond hearing, Kennedy had hired a new defense attorney, Stephen J. Eisenberg, a Madison lawyer specializing in criminal defense. Eisenberg took over the case from attorney Anthony John Jurek.
In answer to a question from Crawford County Circuit Judge Lynn Marie Rider, Eisenberg indicated he had no trouble with waiving a time limit in scheduling a preliminary hearing. However, he made it clear he was not waiving having the preliminary hearing.
Kennedy said little during the brief hearing, but sat attentively and calmly next to Eisenberg at the defense table.
After working out scheduling conflicts with the attorneys, Rider scheduled the preliminary hearing for Monday, Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m.
Perhaps, the most interesting development in the case was the release of the criminal complaint. It provided some of the details the initial sheriff’s department news releases did not contain.
The complaint began with 911 call made at 1:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25 by Soldiers Grove resident Jen Glass reporting that the driver of the vehicle in which she was a passenger had just suffered a gunshot wound to his head. At that point, Glass stated she did not know where she was. Staff at the county dispatch center tracked the cellphone call to Martin Lane in the Town of Eastman.
Lieutenant Ryan Fradette, who ultimately prepared the criminal complaint, and others from the sheriff’s department and other law enforcement agencies responded.
Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Cody Mullikin stated that upon his arrival at that location, he observed a vehicle in the driveway of a cabin running with its lights on, according to the criminal complaint. As Mullikin approached, this vehicle began to drive away from the cabin and toward Martin Lane. The vehicle, a truck, drove down the driveway, crossed Martin Lane, and proceeded into a field where it stopped.
Deputy Mullikin and Deputy Marcus Ploessl proceeded to the location of the truck, according to the criminal complaint. As the deputies neared the truck, a female exited the passenger side and began waving her arms. Mullikin identified himself and told the female, Ms. Glass, to leave the truck and come to the squad vehicle. Glass then ran to the squad.
When Glass got to the squad, she stated “he is going to die” and “they are are up there,” pointing to an area occupied by the cabin and a recreational vehicle, the complaint states.
“He’s going to die, get somebody,” Glass stated. Mullikin observed that Glass’s left side was covered with blood–on her shirt, face and pants.
Mullikin attempted to gather information from Glass, but she was somewhat hysterical, according to the criminal complaint.
Glass did state that there was a male staying in the RV and that it was his birthday. She also stated there were other individuals in the cabin.
Glass continued to state, “He’s going to die.”
Other officers continued to arrive and were attending to the male party in the driver’s side of the truck, the criminal complaint explains. The male party, later identified as Monticello resident Jason Melvin, was bleeding from the back of his head from an apparent gunshot wound.
Melvin was removed from the truck by three officers and taken by EMS to Crossing Rivers Medical Center in Prairie du Chien, where he was Med-Flighted to UW-Hospital in Madison.
It was confirmed with medical personnel at UW Hospitals that Melvin sustained a gunshot would to the head and, at the time of the filing of the criminal complaint on Monday, Nov. 4, remained in critical condition, but was now stable.
Glass told authorities that she and Melvin met Lee Kennedy at the Main Street Bar in Eastman earlier in the evening of October 24. She stated that they had been at the bar for a while, playing pool and drinking and speaking with Kennedy.
Kennedy told them it was his birthday. Glass stated that Kennedy said he was staying at a place on Martin Lane for the weekend and wanted to go back there and continue to celebrate his birthday, according to the criminal complaint.
Glass told investigators that Kennedy was intoxicated, so she and Melvin accompanied him back to the RV. She stated Melvin and Kennedy rode together in Melvin’s truck and she drove Kennedy’s vehicle.
Glass said she and Melvin went inside the RV with the defendant for approximately 30 minutes. Glass stated there was no one else in the RV and she did not see or hear anyone in the nearby cabin.
Upon leaving the RV, Glass and Melvin got into Melvin’s tuck, which he turned around and began to head for Martin Lane.
Glass stated she then heard a gunshot and simultaneously the back window of the truck shattered out. Glass said Melvin’s head immediately went down and there was no further movement from Melvin. Glass then drove the truck from the passenger seat. She drove out of the driveway, across Martin Lane and into a field.
While gathering more information and processing the area near the cabin and RV, Deputy Mullikin observed a handgun lying on the front porch portion of the deck of the cabin. The deputy pointed out the gun, which was silver in color with wooden handle grips, to Lieutenant Fradette.
Also in that area on the ground, within approximately 10 feet of he handgun, were three expended shell casings. The handgun and the cartridges were seized, the criminal complaint states. The handgun contained live rounds in the magazine and chamber. The handgun was cocked and ready to fire.
Fradette indicated the handgun was a .45 caliber, as were the spent casings found on the ground. Furthermore, the brand name labeling on the shell casings was the same as the live cartridges inside the handgun.
Fradette stated that inside the RV, which had been occupied by Kennedy, a plastic handgun case was found. On the outside of the case was a sticker with the printed the serial number of a gun. The serial number on the case matched the serial number of the handgun found by the officers on the deck of the cabin. Also in the RV were three additional boxes of ammunition, which matched the live ammunition in the handgun and the three shell casings located on the ground.Fradette indicated in the criminal complaint that it was determined there were two people occupying the cabin for the weekend, which is adjacent to the RV. One of the cabin occupants, Dale Wittlieff, stated that at approximately 1:25 a.m., he heard three gunshots coming from outside the cabin, but very close. Wittlieff stated there was one shot followed by a slight pause, followed by two shots in quick succession.