Netherland Trial Day 2: Nephew Testifies Against Uncle

By: Brian Dorman Email
By: Brian Dorman Email

Topeka, KS (WIBW) -- It is the second day in a cold case murder trial. Theodore Netherland is accused of brutally stabbing Karen Estes to death on October 20, 1989.

In opening remarks Thursday it was said that Netherland took a knife from his home, walked across the park to the Hillcrest Community Center in Topeka where he stabbed Estes 9 times, fatally wounding her.

Estes, mother of three, was 42 years old.

Friday was an emotional second day of the trial as a forensic investigator walked jurors through autopsy photos. Both the suspect and the victim's family walked out of the court room as the photos were shown.

At 1:30 p.m. after lunch recess, retired Topeka Police Officer Don Kennedy took the stand as a witness. In 1989 Kennedy served as a homicide investigator and recalled arriving to the scene. He said he was in charge of taking crime photos and recovered Estes' purse. He said there was no other physical evidence at the scene.

The following day, October 21, 1989 he said he went back to the location to look for a weapon during daylight hours; a weapon was never located at the scene. He recalls driving to Brennan Funeral home to view the autopsy. He says he was there for hair samples and blood. He said the autopsy showed no match for a suspect.

At 1:45 p.m. Alan Maddox took the stand. Maddox has worked for the past four years for KBI and his job is to collect bodily fluid from crime scenes. On April 11, 2006 he was sent to 2006 Indiana Street in search of blood evidence from three closet floors in the home. He testified that all closets came up negative for blood stains. Maddox added that blood evidence can be destroyed by the use of home cleaners and that blood evidence over time can be destroyed by the environment it's in.

The most emotional of testimonies came around 2:30 p.m. when Terrance Wilkins, the nephew of Theodore Netherland, took the stand to testify against his very own uncle.

"It's hard, It's hard," Wilkins replied when asked by the defense attorney how hard it was to testify against a family member. "They are mad at me right now for doing this," he said implying that his family didn't agree with him coming forward in this murder investigation.

It came out in court Friday that in March 2006 Wilkins wrote a letter to the D.A.'s office asking to speak to detectives. Two detectives drove from Topeka to the state of Arkansas where Wilkins was serving time in federal prison. The reason was never disclosed in court.

"It had been on my mind for a long time. I opened up to someone in prison with me and he advised that I do it," Wilkins said.

On the stand Wilkins admitted that he wanted the D.A. to reduce his 21 month sentence time and that was his reason for coming forward.

"Maybe it could get me out," he said.

Two detectives met with Wilkins in Arkansas where they recorded their interview and accepted a written statement from Wilkins.

"While I was by my grandmother's house, there was a bloody knife on the floor in Theodore's room," he testified.

Wilkins went on to say Netherland confessed to killing a woman. He says he did it because he was harassed by white woman. "We were pretty close," Wilkins added.

"It wasn't a small knife, but wasn't a big knife, it had dried up blood on it," Wilkins testified.

Wilkins went on to say he told his mother, two brothers and two sisters, along with his now ex-wife, all before he contacted detectives 17 years later. He testified that the family often spoke about the murder but never told authorities.

The defense argued that Wilkins is using this testimony to simply get out of his current sentence early.

"I told them I'm not doing it for nothing," Wilkins said on the stand.

The court recessed at 3:30 p.m. and will resume Monday morning at 9.

13 News will continue team coverage all week of the Netherland trial beginning Monday with Rae Chelle Davis.


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