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Natalie Bell Kelly, Witness for the Defendant


THE COURT: All right. I believe you had a


witness you wanted to --

MR. LLOYD: Yes, sir, Your Honor. With the Court's permission, we'd call Ms. Natalie Kelly -­

THE COURT: All right.

MR. LLOYD: -- out of order.

THE COURT: Again, members of the jury, this witness is being taken out of order, in order to convenience the witness, who's concerned about the hurricane. She lives in Jacksonville, she wants to get back down here, and I think you can understand that. She's being taken out of order. We'll resume the cross-examination of Mr. Kimble when we finish her testimony.

Come around, please, ma'am.

You may step down, sir.


(The witness left the witness stand.)

NATALIE BELL KELLY, being first duly sworn, testified as follows during DIRECT EXAMINATION by MR. LLOYD:

Q    Ms. Kelly, would you state your full name for the record, please, ma'am.

A    Natalie Bell Kelly.

Q    And where do you live, Mrs. Kelly?

A    I live in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Q    And where do you work?

A    I work for the base command chaplain at Camp Lejeune,


North Carolina.

Q    And what are your duties there?

A    I'm the fiscal manager. I take care of all the appropriated and the nonappropriated funds for the command chaplain. Now, the nonappropriated are all the offerings from all the outlying chapels.

Q    And how long have you been working there at Camp Lejeune?

A    This December will be 19 years for the chaplain.

Q    And Mrs. Kelly, do you know the defendant, Ronnie Kimble, in this case?

A    Yes, I do.

Q    How do you know him?

A    Ronnie came to work for us, I believe -- it may have been early, but I was thinking it was probably around July of '95. It could have been earlier. But he was working at the command chaplain's office, in the -- as our driver at that time.

Q    Now, did you have a regular association with Ronnie Kimble?

A    Yes, I did.

Q    How often would you estimate that you saw him during that period of time?

A    Every day he was at work, I saw him -- I would see him, because he did all of our -- he did all my runs, he would


pick up supplies, he delivered supplies to the chapels. And I was in charge of providing -- there's like nine chapels or something to that effect, numerous services. And he took care of delivering all the supplies.

Q    Now, Mrs. Kelly, are you an enlisted Navy or Marine personnel, or are you a civilian?

A    I'm a civilian.

Q    All right. Now, would you characterize your working relationship with Ronnie Kimble as one of boss and employee, or how would you characterize it?

A    Well, Ronnie worked for me -- he worked for everybody in the building. I think probably he -- I think maybe he worked for me a little more, because I take care of -- I just have all the responsibility of supplying all the chapels. So he was constantly making runs or delivering mail, not only to the chapels, but to the purchasing office and to different people that we interact with on the base.

Q    But you frequently told Ronnie essentially what to do?

A    Yes.

Q    All right.

A    As far as -- as far as my part of the job. He also worked for the -- you know, he delivered, did things for the chaplains, also.

Q    All right. Now, Mrs. Kelly, did Ronnie talk to you concerning the events surrounding Patricia Kimble's death?


A    Yes, he did.

Q    All right. Now, do you know a woman, an enlisted woman by the name of Mrs. Jackson, formerly Mrs. Cato?

A    Yes, I do. She worked for me.

Q    All right. And during this time that you knew Ronnie Kimble, was Mrs. Jackson there working in the same office with you?

A    Yes. Well, she worked in an office across the hall. had three supply people across the hall, she and Lance Corporal Lodge, and also a sergeant who was a supply clerk.

Q    All right. Now, did there come a time, Mrs. Kelly, when you had a conversation with Ronnie Kimble, when Mrs. Cato Jackson might have been present and overheard the conversation?

A    There were probably lots of times -- my door was always open. The only time I ever closed my door is if I had some important report to get out, that I needed to keep everybody out. But at that time, nobody would be there but me. But yes, my door stayed open. She just come. The copy machine was in my office. She made copies, she did a lot of the work in my -- in my office.

Q    Now, during this conversation, Mrs. Kelly, do you ever remember Ronnie Kimble saying to you that he was the last person to see Patricia Kimble alive?

A    Never. He never said that.


Q    Was any such statement as that made by anybody?

A    Yes.

Q    And who was that person?

A    That was Detective Church.

Q    All right. Did there come a time, Mrs. Kelly, when you relayed -- Well, let me ask you this. You said Detective Church made that statement. When did he make that statement?

A    He had called me for an interview. And it was Detective Church, and I think the other gentleman was Mr. Pendergrass. And there was a, I call them NIS agent, there.

Q    All right. And do you remember the approximate time frame that this interview took place?

A    You mean in the afternoon or the day?

Q    Well, yeah, the day, if you remember.

A    They said it was the 3rd or 4th of March. I think that's about right.

Q    All right.

A    And it was after lunch --

Q    All right.

A    -- that they called me in, sometime after lunch.

Q    And if you could tell the jury what the circumstances of Detective Church's remarks were.

A    That particular remark?

Q    Yes, ma'am.


A    He asked me, as we were concluding our interview, he said to me, "Mrs. Kelly, are you aware that Ronnie Kimble was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive?" And I said, "No, I wasn't." It didn't -- it didn't hit me what -­really what he was saying at that time, because he had told me that Ronnie had been to the house that morning, and he also told me that Ronnie had been in the house and saw his brother. And so, when he said, "Did you know he was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive?" I said, "No, I didn't know that." And as I walked out the door, I thought to myself, well, gee-whiz, you know, he's saying that Ronnie murdered his sister-in-law.

Q    Now, Mrs. Kelly, did you have occasion to talk to Ronnie about that statement that Detective Church made to you?

A    Yes, I did.

Q    All right. And when was that?

A    That was after the interview, maybe about an hour after I got back to the office, just prior to going home for today -- the day. Ronnie came by my office and he said, "Have you been interviewed?" And I said, "Yes. In fact, I just got back shortly --" you know, "just a little while ago." And he said, "Was there anything -- were they trying to say that I was guilty of anything?" And I said, "Well, no, not really." And I said, "There is one thing they said." And I


said, "I want to share that with you, because I think it's important to you." Because in the past, I had told Ronnie that I thought he needed to get an attorney. Because they kept calling him and they kept calling him. And I said,

"You'd better get an attorney." He said, "I have nothing to get an attorney for. I haven't done anything."

So anyway, I told him, I said, "Before I left the interview, Detective Church asked me, did I know that Ronnie Kimble was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive." And Ronnie said, "Oh, my gosh," he says, "you know what he was saying?" And I said, "Yes. I thought about it after I got out." I said, "I know what he was saying." And Ronnie said,. "Well, would you mind typing up a statement for me and signing it, because I'm going to get an attorney, and I want to give him that statement." And I said, "Ronnie, what I'd like to do is, talk to my husband." And I said, "I really -- don't want to write any statements, until I talk to my husband." I said, "Let me talk to him tonight." But that is what the man said.

So I talked to my husband, Leo, and he had worked in corrections for a good number of years. And I said, "Do you think I should type up a statement for him?" And he said, "What I think you should do is, tell him if he gets an attorney, and they need any information, to have them call you, and you'll be glad to share whatever you know." And


so, that's what I told Ronnie.

Q    Now, Mrs. Kelly, did there come a time when you did make notes of your conversations with Detective Church?

A    Yes, I did.

Q    All right. Now, when Detective Church interviewed you, do you recall whether or not he took notes during the interview?

A    I saw him jotting down something just occasionally. would -- he would talk, and it was kind of like he was asking me questions and he was -- kind of more like a -­just a conversational thing, you know, like "I'm talking to you. You're a mother. You understand these things. This girl has been murdered, and we're trying to apprehend the murderer." So it was kind of more like a discussion type thing, but he was asking me questions. And -- but I --

Q    I didn't mean to interrupt you. Go ahead.

A    Now, I sensed when I went in that day, though, that -­I just felt like they were really against Ronnie and thought that he might have something to do with it. And I told them when I first went in, I said, "I don't know what you're going to tell me, but I want you to know that I've worked with Ronnie Kimble for a long time. He seems to be a very good person. And I don't think you can tell me anything that would make me think he's guilty, although," you know, "I don't know, but I don't think he's guilty."


Q    Mrs. Kelly, after your interview -- Well, let me ask you this. Do you remember Agent Pendergrass taking notes during your interview?

A    I don't recall ever seeing him ever take a note.

Q    All right. What about the NIS agent?

A    No, I don't recall seeing him take a note.

Q    Now, did Detective Church, after he got through with the interview, did he ever present you with an -- with the write-up, his write-up of your interview --

A    No, sir, he didn't.

Q    -- and ask you to check it over for accuracy?

A    No, sir.

Q    Now, in fact, Mrs. Kelly, did there come a time when you were able to see Detective Church's write-up of your interview?

A    Yes.

Q    And at that time, Mrs. Kelly, did you check it for accuracy?

A    Yes, I did. And I was very disturbed.

Q    All right. Do you recall telling Detective Church that Ronnie Kimble told you his sister-in-law had been shot, and the house set on fire?

A    I did tell him that, that Ronnie had told me that, that she had been shot.

Q    Do you recall what Detective Church put in his report?


A    He said that she -- that I said that Ronnie told me that his sister-in-law had been shot in the head and her body set on fire.

Q    All right. Now, do you recall Detective Church telling you -- or do you recall your response to Detective Church, that Ronnie had told you that he borrowed his brother's truck to pick up some materials for his mobile home, but that he was with his wife and her parents at the time investigators said his sister-in-law was murdered?

A    Yes, I remember that.

Q    All right. Do you recall what Detective Church wrote about that?

MR. PANOSH: We object, please.

THE COURT: Overruled.

A    He said that Ronnie borrowed the -- Let's see. Would you rephrase that question. I'm sorry.

Q    Well, do you recall Detective Church stating that -­Well, strike that, Mrs. Kelly. Let me ask you another question. Do you recall Ronnie making a statement to you concerning a tool chest?

A    Yes, I do.

Q    All right. And what did Ronnie say to you concerning this -- the tool chest?

A    He said that a tool chest had been -- or a tool box, something of that nature, had been pulled out from the wall,


and that it appeared that somebody may have been trying to burglarize the house. There was -- I think a pistol was in the floor, and the tool chest had been pulled out, and that's what it appeared to be --

Q    All right.

A    -- that --

Q    And do you recall what Detective Church wrote in his statement about your -- what you said to him?

A    Yes. He said that I said that Ronnie told me that whoever murdered his sister-in-law was in the process of burglarizing the house, and when she came home, that she caught them and they murdered her.

Q    All right. Now, Mrs. Kelly, do you recall Detective Church writing in his write-up of what you told him that "Kelly stated Kimble never told her that he was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive"?

A    He -- well, he put that in there, and I did a rebuttal of that. I said, he never said that to me. Kimble never told me he was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive. Detective Church told me, asked me if I knew that Kimble was the last person to see his sister-in-law alive.

Q    Now, do you recall, Mrs. Kelly, what Ronnie Kimble told you about the circumstances of his sister -- his sister-in-law entering her house at the time a burglary might have been in process?


A    Well, he -- they said that -- I had talked to Ronnie and asked him if he thought maybe, you know, it was a burglary. He had told me about the tool chest being there. And I said, "Do you think maybe she walked on --" you know, "she went home and found somebody burglarizing the house?" you know. We had discussed this and just, you know, kind of questioning, do you think or do you think this could happen or that. And Detective Church, of course, said that I said that she went home and that -- that Ronnie said she went home and burglarized the house (sic). Now, the -- I guess the NCIS now, they told -- the agent there told me, and --

MR. PANOSH: We object. He's not testified.

THE COURT: Sustained to what he may have said.


Q    Don't say what the NIS --

A    Okay.

Q    -- agent might have said. Do you recall Detective Church saying in his statement as to what you said, that "Kelly related she does recall Kimble telling her that he had purchased gas on the day of his sister-in-law's death and may have put gas in the lawn mower located at his sister-in-law's residence on this same occasion"? Do you recall Detective Church putting that in his statement of what you told him?

A    Yes, I do. And I never said that.


Q    All right. And what in fact did you tell him that Ronnie Kimble had told you concerning that?

A    We had talked about the fact that he had talked about expressing some concern that -- because they kept calling him, they kept coming down there, and he was concerned about this. And he said -- we were just talking about the house, and I said, "Well, you know, if -- even if your fingerprints were there, that wouldn't necessarily mean that you had done anything, because he's your brother. You've been in his house." And he said -- I think he might have even mentioned that he had used their lawn mower before. He did not say he put gas in that lawn mower.

Q    Did he ever --

A    I don't ever recall anything about that.

Q    Did he ever say anything to you about putting gas in the lawn mower?

A    No, I don't remember him ever saying anything --

Q    Or purchasing any gas for the lawn mower?

A    No, sir. No, sir.

Q    Now, do you remember Detective Church putting in his statement, as to what you said, that "Kelly stated that Kimble further mentioned to her during conversations that the gun used in the murder of his sister-in-law was found near the body"? Do you recall Detective Church saying that about what you said that Ronnie had said?


A    Yes, I do.

Q    And what in fact did Ronnie say?

A    Ronnie told me that he did not know if the gun was the murder weapon. I asked him if it was the murder weapon, the gun that was found in the floor of the house. And he said he did not know, that the detectives, investigators, whoever, had never said if the gun was or not. In fact, I recall him saying that his father had even asked them about that and they wouldn't even tell him. They hadn't told anybody. So, there's just no way I could have said that, because I didn't know. And I still don't know.

And the next sentence they had in the statement said that, again, "Mrs. Kelly said that she --" "that Kimble told her he did not know," after they had just said I said he said he did know, that it was the murder weapon.

Q    Now, Mrs. Kelly, did you have a chance to evaluate Ronnie's performance as a Marine?

A    Yes, I did. I wasn't in charge of anything militarily on that side, but I did have a chance to see.

Q    And what was your evaluation of Ronnie's performance, Mrs. Kelly?

A    He was a very good Marine. He was -- as far as I know, he was well thought of. The chaplains thought his work was exceptional. From what the chief at the office told me --

MR. PANOSH: We object.


A    -- he had --

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q    Well, don't say --

A    Okay.

Q    -- what other people said.

A    Okay. He was -- my own observance is that he was a very good Marine. He was always neat in his uniform. He was dependable. And he was very trustworthy. And he was -­he was recommended by the base command --

MR. PANOSH: We object, please.

Q    Well, don't --

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q    You can't say what --

A    Okay.

MR. LLOYD: Thank you, Ms. Kelly.

A    Okay.

THE COURT: Further questions?

MR. LLOYD: Just if the Court -- if I could beg the Court's indulgence.

(Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Hatfield conferred.)

MR. LLOYD: That's all I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Mr. Panosh, how long is your cross-examination going to be?

MR. PANOSH: About five minutes.

THE COURT: You may proceed.



Q    Drawing your attention, not to the March 4th conversation, but to the conversations when you first talked to Ronnie after the death of his sister-in-law.

A    Yes.

Q    Do you remember saying that Ronnie was crying about it?

A    He did cry when he told me about his sister-in-law having been murdered.

Q    And do you remember him telling you that later on in July, he had an interview with investigators, and they allowed him to tape record that interview?

A    No, sir. I did not say that. I --

Q    I'm not asking you what you're saying.

A    Uh-huh.

Q    I'm asking you what Ronnie Kimble said.

A    What Ronnie --

Q    Do you remember --

A    -- Kimble told me --

Q    -- Ronnie Kimble telling you that?

A    Okay. Ronnie Kimble told me that he was supposed to have a -- that the investigators wanted to meet with him again. He said, "If I meet with them again, I am going to take a tape recorder with me and," he said, "I'm going to record it, because they've changed -- they try to change what I say, and I'm going to put it on tape."


Q    In a subsequent conversation, did he tell you in fact he did tape it?

A    No, sir, he did not.

Q    And your duties do not include evaluating Marines, do they?

A    No, sir, it doesn't.

Q    And when Ronnie Kimble talked to you -- talked about you, he referred to you as a mother figure. Is that accurate?

A Well, I think a lot of the young service people there like to come in and talk to me. I guess I have a good ear for listening.

Q    Well, specifically Ronnie Kimble, did --

A    Yes, he did.

Q    -- was he accurate when he said --

A    Yes, I --

Q    -- referred to you as a mother --

A    -- think he did --

Q    Do you remember Ronnie telling you about the life insurance policy that Ted had taken out on his wife?

A    Yes, I do.

Q    About the motorcycle and all the spending Ted did?

A    Not the spending. He didn't tell -- he said that Ted had bought a motorcycle. And he even told me he had dated some girl not too long after his sister-in-law's death. And


he said he -- you know, that didn't really look real good, but, you know, it wasn't like he had -- you know -- it wasn't like he wasn't in love with his wife, I'll put it that way.

Q    And Ronnie told you that Ted had taken an insurance policy on his wife just before her death and forged her signature?

A    Yes, he did.

MR. PANOSH: No further questions.

MR. LLOYD: Just one or two follow-ups.


Q    Mr. Panosh asked you about -- a question about Ronnie Kimble crying when he first told you about his sister-in-law's death?

A    Yes, sir.

Q    In your experience and relationship with Ronnie, Mrs. Kelly, was he an emotional young man?

A    I think he was. He was very emotional when -- at the time that his sister-in-law was murdered, he showed a lot of emotion about that. And then, when his wife lost their child, he was very emotional about that.

Q    All right. Did he cry on that occasion?

A    Yes, I've seen him cry about that. And I'm not talking about a boohoo crying now. I'm talking about the tears welling up in his eyes, you know, and that sort of crying.


But I think so. I think he just impressed me to be a very tender-hearted person.

MR. PANOSH: We object to this.

THE COURT: Sustained.

MR. LLOYD: That's all I have, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Step down, ma'am.

(The witness left the witness stand.)

MR. LLOYD: Your Honor, may Mrs. Kelly be excused?

THE COURT: Any objection?


THE COURT: You may be excused, ma'am.

We're going to take our afternoon recess, members of the jury. It'll be a 15-minute recess. Please remember the Court's instructions. You may now take a recess.

Everyone else remain seated.

(The jury left the courtroom at 3:36 p.m.)

THE COURT: 15-minute recess, sheriff.

(A recess was taken at 3:37 p.m.)



Published August 15, 2006.  Report broken links or other problems.

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