THE COURT: Next witness, please.
MR. HATFIELD: Next witness is James Stump.
(Whereupon, the witness was first duly sworn.) JAMES STUMP, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows during DIRECT EXAMINATION by MR. HATFIELD:
Q. Mr. Stump, you testified before, didn't you?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you're Ronnie Kimble's father-in-law?
A. That's right.
Q. Will you tell us again, you may have covered some of this before, but when did you meet Ronnie?
A. I met Ronnie about 14 years ago. Well, actually about 12 years ago. He was 14. And I met him at the church too.
Q. And at that time did he become acquainted with your daughter?
A. I think more or less become buddies. I become his buddy too. And we got pretty close. And it's just kind of something that just got, you know, tighter and tighter. And him and Kim went together there for -- for
a little bit. You know. For a while. Then they kind of broke it off. They went separate ways. And then they finally got back together later.
Q. When they went together that first time, do you remember how old Kim was?
A. Probably somewhere around -- if you call it puppy love is what I call it, probably around 15.
Q. And how long did that last?
A. Probably on up to about -- I would say she was probably 17.
Q. And did that include going out on dates? Did they go out on dates?
A. You know, I really don't know.
Q. Did they just get together around each other's house?
A. I think it was more or less just around the house. They may have went anywhere -- if they went anywhere like that, usually me and Judy or somebody was with them.
Q. Now, you were quite a sportsman when you were a little younger, weren't you?
A. Yes, sir, I was.
Q. And what was your principal sport?
A. I played a lot of softball when I got to the age I couldn't play baseball.
Q. Did you involve yourself with any softball activities with Ronnie?
A. Well, Ronnie -- we did -- me and Ronnie and Kim, we would play in the backyard usually on Sunday afternoons. Even when -- at the age of 14, he would come at the house and we would get back in the backyard and that's where we would play. But Ronnie never played on a team with me.
Q. Did you form any opinions at that time about his sportsmanship and his attitude about playing games and that sort of thing? Anything you can tell the jury?
A. Well, Ronnie was a good boy, but I don't think he was that good in sports.
Q. He just didn't have the athletic ability?
A. Not what I could see.
Q. Do you remember his activities with yard care - and lawn mowing and all that?
A. I sure do.
Q. Can you tell the jury -- I know they've heard it before, but can you tell them what your observations were about that?
A. Well, some of the work I seen Ronnie do, Ronnie was good at it. He done excellent work like that. Of course, I didn't follow him around all the time. One of the ladies here that lived down below us he did a lot of
work for. And if you go by there now, she's got one of the prettiest yards you can see, and a lot of that is because of Ronnie Kimble.
Q. So are you saying that he was capable of sticking to his guns and doing a good job --
A. I sure do.
Q. -- and works hard?
Q. Do you know whether he's got -- what's his reputation for honesty and truthfulness?
A. Well, my house was always open. He'd come -- he would come and go when he got ready. Like I said, he hung around there quite a bit. And there was probably always change or something like that or some kind of piece of gold, you know, like a ring or something laying around, it was never touched. We never had a problem like that. He even knew where the key is, and still does know where the key is, where if he wants to he can get in and out of the house.
Q. Did -- as time went by, Ronnie and your daughter drifted away from one another and there was a period when they were really not friends; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. Did you continue to be friends with Ronnie during that period?
A. Ronnie would -- even when Ronnie was dating somebody else, he'd always either come by the house or someone -- he wanted to know our opinion. We tried to be honest with him because we would flat give him our opinion. And sometimes he didn't particularly like it, but we'd give him our opinion because that's what he come by there for.
And I've seen Kim follow him all the way out of the house and give her opinion all the way to the car, and vice versa, if they was in a car or truck. Sometimes they'd be in a car and sometimes they'd be in a truck.
Q. Now, are you saying when he wasn't dating Kim he would bring his friends over to your house?
A. Sure would.
Q. Would that include lady friends he had?
A. That was the ones that he would bring most of the time.
Q. During these years when you were watching Ronnie grow up, did you have occasion to observe Ted?
A. I knew Ted as far as just knowing somebody. I probably know some of the people in here on the jury probably better than I really knew Ted. I just knew of Ted and I'd speak to Ted, but that's as far as we ever got.
Q. Did you have a chance to observe the relationship or the interaction between Ted and Ronnie?
A. Ted and Ronnie just didn't get along. I don't know if it's age difference -- I think what it was with Ted was Ted was older. He wanted to do his things and he didn't want little brother hanging around him.
Q. Well, even if they didn't get along, did Ted have the ability to boss Ronnie or correct Ronnie?
A. Most of the time.
Q. He did?
Q. And what did you see of your own knowledge that let you know that?
A. Just by some of the conver- -- when they'd be talking or something of that sort. Just little things. Like, Ronnie go on, or something like that right there. It was nothing major. Again, I look at it as you've got an older brother and a little brother.
Q. So when -‑
A. My brother did me the same way.
Q. Were you a younger brother?
A. I was the baby in my family.
Q. And did you get bossed by the bigger brothers?
A. All the time.
Q. Do you -- do you feel that Ted somehow, even
though Ronnie and Ted may not have been close, that he had some control over Ronnie?
A. No. I don't think he had control over Ronnie.
Q. So you wouldn't call him a domineering person -‑
Q. -- in a relationship?
A. See, that's what I'm saying. I went through the same situation growing up. My brother would boss me around, but he couldn't -- that was as far as he could go with it.
Q. Now, as the years went by then, of course, Ronnie began to get close to Kim again and they decided to get married, didn't they?
A. Right. Ronnie was on float oversees and he called one day. Of course, I think him and Kim had been writing off and on for a while there. He give me a call. And I tried to tell them, I said, Please, don't do this. And of course, I talked to Ron on the telephone. I said, Let's wait till we get out of the military. I said, Both of you-all save your money, get out of the military. I said that's the best way to be. At least you've got something to get started on.
Q. So did they decide to get married anyway?
A. They decided to get married anyway.
Q. So when they decided to get married, they didn't
really have a current relationship that led to that marriage, they sort of had an old relationship that -‑
A. That's right.
Q. -- patched together long distance? Would that be fair to say?
A. That's it. I think Ronnie and Kim always liked each other, though, from day one.
Q. In your observations of the relationship between those two young people, did either one of those people dominate the other?
A. I didn't see it.
Q. What would you tell this jury about Ronnie's way of handling himself with Kim?
A. I think Ronnie, as far as a husband, was about as good as a husband could be. What I could see with him and Kim -- and believe me, I would not take up for my daughter and I wouldn't take up for Ronnie. If I'd seen something, I'd let him know about it. That's just the way I am.
But as far as those two, they got along great. They tried to work hard. Tried to have things. Kim, I think, more or less looked after more of the money part of it than Ronnie did. And Ronnie did sell plasma and pick up stuff like that so he could have extra money. But they were trying to pay for this mobile home, cars,
different things. So it takes money to do that. I went through the same thing, me and my wife. Everybody does that when you're young.
But as far as their relationship, as far as a husband, Ronnie was just about as good as anybody you could see. And I'm not saying that because I know Ronnie.
Q. Well, I'm not asking you about Kim's attitude toward Ronnie but strictly Ronnie's behavior toward Kim?
A. It was excellent.
Q. It was excellent?
A. It was excellent.
Q. Did you ever see any signs of short temper or violence demonstrated by Ronnie towards your daughter?
A. I never seen any. Doesn't mean times that might not have been something there, but I never saw anything-at all.
Q. Now, during the period of time that Ronnie has been waiting for trial in the Guilford County jail, have you had a chance to visit him and talk to him?
A. Unless it was a day where I couldn't get there, or like if they had something over there where you couldn't get in the jail, I visit Ronnie I think every day maybe but one, and that's when I'd be out of town. But I've been there and I've talked to Ronnie once or
twice every week on the phone.
Q. Has Ronnie -- what sort of attitude about his religious beliefs and his hope for the future has Ronnie indicated to you during this period while he was waiting for trial?
A. He was hoping when everything like this right here happened that when he got out, that he would be able to go back -- maybe to Liberty University and go to school. Him and Kim I think was going to try to get involved in something up there themselves and go back to school.
Q. Strictly with regard to Ronnie's feelings and not anything having to do with Kim's feelings, what -has Ronnie maintained his Christian faith while he's been incarcerated?
A. As far as I know. Except for one situation.
Q. And has he always continued to maintain hope and belief in God?
A. Oh, yeah. Still does. To this day.
Q. If Ronnie Kimble's life is spared, will he continue to serve God or will he become cynical and bitter?
MR. PANOSH: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q. Do you know whether his religious beliefs will
withstand any decision that this jury may have?
MR. PANOSH: Object.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q. How -- how strongly are these beliefs that he holds, if you know?
A. Knowing Ronnie like I do, I think Ronnie will always be like he is as far as religious beliefs. don't think he could change that.
MR. HATFIELD: Nothing further. Thank you.
MR. PANOSH: My we approach?
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
(The following side-bar conference was held out of the hearing of the jury:)
MR. PANOSH: Opened the door.
MR. HATFIELD: Opened the door to what?
THE COURT: Whatever has been -- what he wants to put in.
MR. PANOSH: Your Honor, we'd ask we be allowed to inquire into those letters or in the alternative to have the testimony stricken.
MR. HATFIELD: That is ridiculous.
THE COURT: You put it in.
MR. HATFIELD: What are we talking about? I specifically asked this man --
THE COURT: You asked him if he was a good husband. Carrying on an affair with a lady -‑
MR. HATFIELD: No. I did not ask him if he's a good husband. I challenge the Court to show me that language. I asked what his attitude was, not his wife's attitude toward him and not his attitude toward marriage. His attitude toward religion. I did not open any door to that slime.
THE COURT: You asked about his Christian faith while incarcerated.
MR. HATFIELD: You can't test Christian faith with that slime.
THE COURT: That letter tests it.
MR. HATFIELD: Can't test all of it. We'll have Janet Smith come in here.
THE COURT: It's relevant for the purposes of sentencing on a probative basis.
MR. HATFIELD: What is relevant?
THE COURT: Has he been a good husband. Evidently, he's not. Carrying on an affair while in jail.
MR. HATFIELD: He did not carry on -
THE COURT: He's got all these foul letters.
MR. HATFIELD: You didn't know this before. He didn't carry on any affairs.
THE COURT: That's what the letters show.
MR. HATFIELD: The letters do not show that. If you will study the letters, it doesn't show -‑
MR. LLOYD: It may well be a mistake. Your Honor, if that's Your Honor's ruling, I would ask that whatever portion of that testimony Mr. Panosh has said just be stricken. I mean we could be here for days longer litigating this whole issue -‑
MR. PANOSH: I agree.
MR. LLOYD: -- of Janet Smith.
MR. HATFIELD: I understood that a sentencing hearing in a death penalty -
THE COURT: Any evidence is relevant to sentencing. We're talking about death penalty.
MR. HATFIELD: Yeah.
THE COURT: That's relevant. You paint
it one way; the evidence shows it another way.
MR. HATFIELD: I did not paint it.
THE COURT: That's what your witness is trying to show.
MR. HATFIELD: The witness?
THE COURT: The victim is entitled to a hearing that shows both sides of this matter.
MR. HATFIELD: We're not trying to show the quality of the marriage. We are trying to show religious faith and hope for the future, and I don't know exactly how there can be anybody that knows more about that than the boy's father-in-law. Because he has -- if we are going to ask this jury to let this boy live so that he can -- so that he can face his God every day for the rest of his life, then we have to show whether or not he -- this is about religion. This is not about -
THE COURT: This is a two-phase thing. You've got a victim here that was killed. The jury has found he killed her and justice ought to be done. They ought to
know what kind of person he is.
MR. HATFIELD: We did not put on evidence of a good marriage. There probably is a good marriage. We did not put on evidence.
THE COURT: The witness just testified he was a good husband. He also testified -
MR. HATFIELD: No. He said he was nice to his daughter.
THE COURT: I wrote it down. Good husband.
MR. HATFIELD: How can he not be a good husband?
THE COURT: Well -‑
MR. HATFIELD: Why would you make a decision like this when you've already been over this and, you know, that that stuff is pure poison?
THE COURT: I didn't open the door. I didn't paint him on there for the jury. And I think the State is entitled to show he's not what you're painting him to be.
MR. LLOYD: Your Honor, in the interest of judicial efficiency and judicial economy, why don't we just strike that
portion of the testimony where he's talking about the relationship between his daughter and Ronnie Kimble?
THE COURT: I'll strike that portion he was a good husband, that his Christian faith while incarcerated -‑
MR. LLOYD: Let's just do that.
MR. HATFIELD: Why don't we just let them kill him? Why don't we just stipulate he has no religious value; there's nothing left in him except an animal. Why don't we tell them that?
THE COURT: You've got a victim, and the law and the evidence. You paint him one way and the jury knows the other.
They're entitled to know the aggravating factors and mitigating factors.
MR. HATFIELD: Every question I asked that man on the witness stand was to frame it in terms of Ronnie and not in terms of Ronnie and the girl. I'll tell you this much just if -- just because he engaged in a letter writing circle, which did not include any sexual conduct, it did not, that does not prove anything.
It simply has no probative value. You've already decided this once, and apparently for some reason we're just going to have to talk about it.
THE COURT: Now, you're going to put it in evidence and I'm not going to let you do that without the State having an opportunity that he's not what you paint him to be.
MR. HATFIELD: What did I paint him to be?
THE COURT: Good husband; Christian faith while incarcerated.
MR. HATFIELD: No. I did not. I asked if he treated the girl decently in the man's presence. I don't know -- as a matter of fact, I don't think he said he's a good husband. It's a total distortion.
THE COURT: Read it back.
MR. LLOYD: Your Honor, I think he did say that, Your Honor.
MR. HATFIELD: If he did, it was not in response to a question that was intended to elicit an answer because every
question I asked him, I framed it -
THE COURT: Mr. Panosh, you want to be heard?
MR. PANOSH: We'd ask to be allowed to put the letters in or strike those questions and answers that you've indicated stricken.
MR. HATFIELD: What questions and answers?
THE COURT: He was a good husband and Christian faith while incarcerated.
MR. LLOYD: Just strike those, Your Honor. Just strike them. Strike those.
MR. PANOSH: There's one more thing he said about -- if I understand him correctly, he said he knew some of the jurors.
THE COURT: I heard that too.
MR. HATFIELD: He didn't say that.
THE COURT: Yes, he did. You can ask him about that.
MR. PANOSH: I'd like to do that out of the presence of the jury, not necessarily now.
THE COURT: Mark can come back to --
MR. HATFIELD: That was a figure of speech.
MR. LLOYD: Just a figure of speech.
THE COURT: I don't know if he did or not. He said -‑
MR. LLOYD: The jurors are the ones that are supposed to tell us if they know the people on the witness list.
MR. PANOSH: That might be a reason to look into one of the jurors later on.
THE COURT: I agree with that.
(Open court resumed)
THE COURT: Members of the jury, we'll strike this witness' testimony about the defendant being a good husband. You will not consider that. You will also strike that portion of his testimony about the Christian faith while incarcerated. You will not consider that.
And you may step out for a moment at this time. Do not discuss the case. The three alternates, if you'll go down to the other room, please.
(All jurors absent)
THE COURT: Mr. Panosh, you may examine the witness about his statement.
MR. PANOSH: Yes, sir.
VOIR DIRE EXAMINATION by MR. PANOSH:
Q. Sir, at one point you said I know some of the persons here on the jury better than I know Ted Kimble. Which members of the jury do you know?
A. Well, I was just talking about what time I've been here.
Q. You didn't know those -- the individuals who are currently serving prior to this trial?
A. No. Uh-uh.
MR. PANOSH: No further questions.
THE COURT: Bring the jury back.
MR. HATFIELD: He can stay on the stand, can't he?
THE COURT: Yes, he can.
MR. PANOSH: I have no further questions.
MR. HATFIELD: Your Honor, could we take a recess to talk about the situation? I will tell the Court we have not had any opportunity to go to lunch.
THE BAILIFF: Excuse me. Excuse me. One of the jurors is waiting.
THE COURT: They need to stay out a moment.
MR. HATFIELD: Mr. Lloyd and I have not had any opportunity to coordinate what we were doing, because I had to spend time handling the meeting that Your Honor authorized; he had to do other things. We need a few minutes, if the Court would indulge us.
THE COURT: How much do you need? Fifteen minutes?
MR. HATFIELD: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Court will be recessed 15 minutes. All the jurors may take a recess for 15 minutes.
(Witness stood aside)
Published August 15, 2006. Report broken links or other problems.
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