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"Cold Justice" Delivers In First Episode - Ronnie Hendricks Murder Trial Begins Sept. 9th

I've been waiting for months for this show to begin, and last night's premiere did not disappoint.  Pairing former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler with former Vegas CSI Yolanda McClary was brilliant.  They are both credible, no-nonsense professionals who seem to compliment each other's strengths well.  In their first televised case, they traveled to a small town called Cuero - where a detective there long suspected a shooting death that was ruled a suicide was likely a murder.  Siegler and McClary hit the road and toured the small rural community, met with the Sgt. who held on to this case since January of 2001 in the hopes of getting justice for victim Pam Shelley, her children and her family.

Ronnie Hendricks (Cuerorecord.com)

The small town police force had long believed that Shelley's live-in boyfriend, Ronnie Hendricks was responsible for shooting Pam and staging the scene to make it appear to have been a suicide.  Shelley was shot in the head, the case was quickly ruled to be a suicide after Hendricks' family members told police Shelley had a prior suicide attempt when she lived in Arkansas. Hendricks family members statements to police were conflicting, to say the least. Hendricks told police he had been on the porch with Pam's two children when he heard a gunshot from inside the house. He claims he ran in and found her in the bathroom, bleeding from a gunshot wound. He insists that he began CPR in an attempt to save her life, but "blood was coming out from everywhere".  Hendricks isn't the only family member to claim they performed CPR before the paramedics arrived.  Yet none of them had blood anywhere on their clothing?

Siegler and McClary's first stop in town was to meet with police Sgt. Carl Bowen.  Bowen remembers the scene well.  He pulled out the case file and walked them through the case.  There was little in the way of evidence, because the scene wasn't initially treated as a crime scene - instead, it was quickly ruled a suicide.  No gunshot residue tests were performed on Shelley or Hendricks.  They did have the gun used in the shooting. Ronnie Hendricks gun. Siegler made a list with two sides, one listing the things pointing towards suicide and the other with things that pointed to murder.  They began to methodically go down the list on each side.  They talked to Pam's family and friends about the alleged suicide attempt in Arkansas.  They quickly ruled this out.  Pam and Ronnie were known to fight constantly, and Ronnie had a record of abuse.  It was also known that Ronnie didn't particularly like Pam's two children from a previous relationship.  He did not get along with 11 year old Kayla, who is now 23 years old and appeared on the program last night.

Kayla told Siegler and McClary what she remembers from that day 11 years ago.  Hendricks came home in a foul mood.  He had words with both Pam and Kayla, and he slapped Kayla which was the last straw for Pam.  Pam asked Ronnie's stepfather if he would help load their belongings on his trailer and drive them back to Arkansas. He agreed to help.  Pam Shelley was leaving Ronnie Hendricks. Her things were packed, on the trailer - why in the world would she shoot herself in the head 15 minutes before she was planning to leave this situation?  Ronnie's account of the situation changed greatly from his first police interview after the shooting, where he said he wasn't in the house when the shot was fired.  Now, he claims he was in the house.

His family's accounts just don't add up.  First responders clearly recall that nobody was performing CPR on Shelley, and nobody had blood on them - and they most certainly would have if they had done CPR.  McClary and Siegler were joined by a seasoned detective to help with the case.  He's known to be a master at interviewing suspects.  They sent the one piece of evidence they had to the lab - the gun.  They wanted to see if any touch DNA existed on the handle or the trigger.  The results confirmed their belief - Pam Shelley's DNA was not on the gun, not on the trigger.  No fingerprints, no DNA - and she supposedly shot herself with this gun?  Even more telling, Ronnie Hendricks DNA was not on the gun. No fingerprints either.  This was HIS gun!  One would expect his prints and/or DNA to be present.  This gun was wiped down, that seems clear.

The saddest part of the show was now 23 year old Kayla going back to the house where the killing occurred 11 years ago.  This was her first time back, and she barely held herself together.  But she did, and she walked the team through what she remembers from that awful day.  They re interviewed all family members and noted the inconsistencies in their statements.  After the gun testing results came back, Siegler wrote up her report on their findings and presented it to the county district attorney's office.  Sgt.Bowen had reopened this case back in 2008, but at that time they did not feel they had enough evidence to successfully prosecute Hendricks.  This time, the outcome would be different.

Siegler, McClary and the production crew arrived in the summer of 2012 and began investigating this case.  By the end of 2012, Ronnie Hendricks was arrested and charged with the murder of Pam Shelley. His trial is slated to begin on September 9th of this year. Now that's pretty impressive!  It would be selfish to expect such positive outcomes each time these two set out to catch a killer - but one can dream.  I think TNT has hit the crime/reality TV jackpot in pairing these two.  Kudos!

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this recap as I forgot to watch.

    I just found this article and reading it I became infuriated. Let me know if you respond similarly.

    Christopher Hubbart: Setting a Serial Rapist Loose.

    In 1969, when Christopher Hubbart attended high school in Los Angeles, he reached out and touched a woman's breast as she walked by him on the street. He did this to several woman until he quickly evolved into a rapist. In the early 1970s the sexual predator drove around Los Angeles in the morning hours looking for women to rape.

    Hubbart's criminal M.O. was simple: in residential neighborhoods he'd look for open garage doors that revealed that the man of the house had left for work. If Hubbart saw toys in the yard or in the garage, all the better. Hubbart believed that mothers protective of their children were more likely to submit without a struggle. As a calculating sexual predator, Christopher Hubbart represented one of society's worst nightmares.

    Once inside the carefully chosen victim's house, Hubbart bound the woman's hands, and while he raped her, held a pillow over her face. In 1972 the so-called "pillowcase rapist" sexually assaulted 26 women in Los Angeles County.

    Detectives identified and arrested Hubbart in 1973. He pleaded guilty, and instead of being sent to prison for at least fifty years, the judge sent him for sex offender treatment at the Atascadero State Hospital. (Criminal justice practitioners in California thought they could rehabilitate anyone. Perhaps that's why the state has become a haven for sex offenders.)

    In 1979, after a team of therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists proudly proclaimed that the pillowcase rapist had been cured and was no longer a danger to society, these mental health experts decided to treat him as an outpatient. Hubbart must have been grateful for his clean bill of health and the chance to continue his career as a serial rapist.

    Within months of walking out of the state hospital Hubbart raped several women in northern California. Convicted in 1980, the judge sentenced him to prison instead of putting him back into the hands of counselors and therapists. But this is California, and in 1990, corrections experts released him on parole. As could be expected by anyone who knows anything about serial sex offenders, Hubbart re-offended. He raped a female jogger shortly after his release from prison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NancyB,
      Yesterday I read up on Christopher Hubbart and was shocked and outraged that any judge would make this man eligible for release, conditional or not. This man has re offended every time he's been released from prison. The people of Claremont should be very afraid that this man could be walking among them. Thanks again for bringing this story to light. I summarized the story on yesterday's posting.

      Delete
  2. For the pillowcase rapist it was back to prison. One would think that as a habitual rapist Mr. Hubbart was finally behind bars for good. The parole authorities, obviously with warm spots in their hearts for rapists, released Hubbart back into society after three years behind bars.

    In 1996, while living in the Santa Clara County town of Claremont, California, Hubbart told his parole officer that he felt he was losing control of himself. Later that year, pursuant to a new California law called the Sexual Predator Act, a judge committed Hubbart to the Coalings State Hospital. The new law applied to serial sex offenders like Hubbart who were likely to re-offend. (I guess politicians in the state had grown tired of correction officials and mental health experts putting serial sex offenders back into society.)

    In May 2013 history repeated itself when a judge in Santa Clara County ordered Christopher Hubbart released from the state hospital. Once free, he would come under the supervision of bureaucrats running the Forensic Conditional Release Program. Under this program, administered by the California Department of State Hospitals, Hubbart will receive free housing, continued psychological assessment, group and individual therapy, and regular home visits.

    Serial rapist Hubbart, under the release program, will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device. He will also be subjected to random drug testing, regular polygraph examinations, and house searches. A security guard will be posted at his place of residence. (No wonder the state is on the verge of bankruptcy.) Because it will take at least six months for the Forensic Conditional Release Program bureaucrats to find this rapist a suitable home, his release from the state hospital is not imminent.

    In July 2013 District Attorney Jackie Lacey petitioned a state judge to block Hubbart's release on the grounds of public safety. The judge denied the request, and the government appealed that decision. On August 25, 2013, the California Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's denial of the prosecutor's request. The high court justices did not accompany their ruling with a written decision.

    Prosecutor Lacey, in speaking to reporters after losing the appeal, said, "We are now committed to working with law enforcement partners to ensure that all terms of conditions of release are strictly enforced. We will do everything in our power to keep all members of our community safe from harm."

    Here is the obvious problem: Prosecutor Lacey has no power that will guarantee that this serial rapist will not take off his GPS ankle bracelet and slip into the night only to re-surface after he has raped more women. The prosecutor knows this, the police know it, and so do the bureaucrats in charge of Hubbart's supervision.

    Sixty-two-year-old Christopher Hubbart is being kicked out of the state hospital to make room for younger rapists. The state is simply overrun with sexual predators. Christopher Hubbart's release has nothing to do with rehabilitation. Even the bureaucrats in California now realize that these people cannot be fixed.
    Jim Fisher
    http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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