First Day of Netherland Trial

By: Rae Chelle Davis Email
By: Rae Chelle Davis Email

Opening statements were heard from both the prosecution and the defense. Below you will find a synopsis of the opening statement from the prosecution. A synopsis of the opening statement from the defense follows. Ten witnesses took the stand Thursday. Most described the man they say was standing outside the Hillcrest Community Center on the night of October 20th.

The Prosecutions says on Friday, October 20, 1989 Theodore Netherland took a knife from his home. He walks across the park to the Hillcrest Community Center. He goes to the doors of the Northwest entrence. We know he was there because he told police he was there. That evening several witnesses will testify to seeing a person standing by the doors where Karen was later stabbed.

Karen Estes was 42 years old. She was the mother of 3 children and she was at the Community Center to pick up a video of Knotts Landing from a friend. Her fried invited her to stay and then go for beer. She declined and left.

Willie works at the Community Center and sees Karen walk out. 3-4 minutes latershe comes in crying for help saying a black guy stabbed her in the parking lot. Her eyes roll back and she loses contiousness. They call 911 and EMT arrives. She is pale because she has lost a lot of blood.

Karen had 9 different stab wounds. The wound she received to her chest on the right side cut her coronary artery and she died from loss of blood.

Prosecution says there were no injuries to her hands, just her back and front, side, and face.

Theodore Netherland meets with detectives and gives his description of how he did it. It matches Karen's fatal injuries but he only remembers the knife going in her side. That, however, was the fatal blow.

The case goes cold until 1996 when Terrance Wilkins writes DA Robert Hecht a letter saying he knows what happened at the Rec. Center.

He says his uncle Theodore Netherland told him about stabbing a woman at the Rec. Center and talks about how they got rid of the knife. He was 9 years old when Theodore told him of the incident but he does not say anything about it until 1996 when he is in jail.

Detectives get ahold of Netherland and take him back to the Rec. Center and ask him if he knows about a woman being killed there. He says they must have talked to Terry. Then he tells the detectives how he killed Karen Estes. He describes the motion and location. He can not remember all of the details but then he says he ran back home. Later, in the "soft" room at the Law Enforcement Center Netherland talks about feeling bad about what happened.

The Prosecution says that at the end of the trial the jury will find the defendent guilty of murder in the first degree.

Here is a brief synopsis of the opening statement from Defense Attorney Kathleen Ambrosio.

Ambrosio began by saying that the state has told the jury a horrible story. She says there is no doubt that Karen was brutally murdered. But, she says it is important to remember the ENTIRE story and ALL of the evidence. She said the evidence will show a common theme.
Ambrosio says Terrance Wilkins did tell the police that Netherland confessed. She contends that more evidence reveals reason for concern.
1.) Wilkins has been convicted for being dishonest.
2.) Wilkins says he heard Netherland confess when he was 10 or 11 and there are inconsistancies.
3.) Wilkins says Netherland was in the bushes and jumped out.
4.) Wilkins was impatient about his deal and he wrote two more letters to the DA's office. He wanted to testify to reduce his own sentence.

Ambrosio says detectives knew Netherland was mentally ill. She said they decieved Netherland to get him to go with them to visit the Rec. Center. She said there are inconsistancies with what the prosecution witnesses say and what Netherland told detectives. For example the prosecutions witnesses said Estes was killed when she was leaving and Netherland said he did it when she was walking in.

Ambrosio says Netherland would admit to something he did not do because he is a paranoid schitzofrenic. She said they believe things are real that are not. They have disorganized thoughts. Netherland hears voices and suffers from a very low I.Q. She said he falls in the bottom five percent on an intelligence level.

Ambrosio said it will be revealed that a detective picked up a man from the crime scene who was covered in blood.


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