KCPD says its officer bungled a murder case, but a disappearing witness sunk the trial.

Murder Case Is Killed Again 

KCPD says its officer bungled a murder case, but a disappearing witness sunk the trial.

Last Thursday, a press release from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department announced that the termination of former police officer Danny Holmes would be upheld. As this story relates, Holmes was fired in August 2006 for botching the investigation into the slaying of Guy Coombs, a 25-year-old Cerner businessman who ended up dead near 37th Street and Broadway after partying with crack and hookers one night in late January 2003.

The police department fired Holmes after an internal investigation determined that he had illegally entered the apartment of Edward Z. Henderson before conducting a search that led to the recovery of the alleged murder weapon. "The Board's Finding of Facts state that Holmes unlawfully entered a known felon's apartment while gathering information on a missing businessman who was later found dead," the release reads.

But Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas C. Clark disagreed with the findings of the police board. Henderson's attorney, Bill Raymond, asked Clark to throw out the evidence collected by Holmes in the apartment, arguing that Holmes didn't have a right to conduct the search. But Clark ruled January 17 that Holmes' entry into the apartment was admissible in court.

Holmes and his former partner, Shawn Hamre, both testified in front of Clark. In his ruling, Clark said from the bench, "Both officers testified under oath, withstanding direct and cross-examination. Their unrebutted testimony was direct, plausible, credible, forthright and persuasive."

Holmes and Hamre entered Henderson's apartment after Henderson opened the door and stepped back to let both officers inside. "A reasonable person would consider [Henderson's] nonverbal actions as consensual," Clark said.

After the judge's ruling, Jackson County Special Prosecutor Sean Pickett dismissed the murder and armed-criminal-action charges against Henderson. Pickett tells The Pitch that he dismissed the charges because his most essential witness, then-Jackson County Medical Examiner Thomas Gill, wasn't available to testify. Gill had examined Coombs' body, but Gill is now in California and couldn't return to take the stand. However, Pickett says he plans to refile the charges against Henderson.

Henderson is still headed to prison. He was found guilty in federal court on February 10, 2004, of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. A judge sentenced him to 20 years in prison. First, however, he was shipped to the Jackson County Jail to await the murder trial. He spent 1,797 days in the Jackson County jail — time that doesn't count against his federal sentence.

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