After more than 15 years behind bars and multiple unsuccessful appeals, Marlon Kiser is beginning to lose hope. Finally, he convinces a judge to re-examine a vital piece of evidence, which he believes will exonerate him once and for all. So, will Kiser manage to prove his innocence and walk free after all these years?
On September 6, 2001, Deputy Donald Bond was on patrol in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At 35 years of age, he was a good cop, with the honor of performing the most DUI arrests in all of Hamilton County during 2000. Sadly, that fateful night would prove to be his last.
In the early hours of the morning, Bond stopped his patrol car at a produce stand. He had seen a suspicious vehicle in the area and consequently wanted to take a closer look. However, once he pulled over, he was subjected to a lethal hail of bullets.
In total, the assailant shot Bond a staggering nine times. Seven of those shots came from the killer’s high-powered rifle, while two were fired from Bond’s own gun. Tragically, he died at the scene – the first Hamilton County officer to be killed on the job in almost 80 years.
According to medical examiner Dr. Stan Kessler, each of the many shots that pierced Bond’s body could have been enough to cause the officer’s death. Several of his major organs were damaged, while the force of the bullets was strong enough to shatter bones.
Immediately, the devastated Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department began to search for the perpetrator of this terrible crime. Moreover, it didn’t take long before Kiser found himself at the center of the investigation. Indeed, the evidence against him seemed convincing.
Apparently, police searching Bond’s police vehicle discovered fibers that were subsequently found to match the shirt that Kiser had been wearing on the night of the murder. In addition, an incriminating set of boot prints was found near the crime scene.
And when police later visited Kiser’s home, they discovered a pair of boots matching the prints. Moreover, as if that wasn’t bad enough, they also caught Kiser attempting to dispose of a pair of sweatpants by throwing them off the back porch of the property.
According to experts, the sweatpants were also a match for fibers found inside Bond’s car. The final nail in Kiser’s coffin subsequently came from the testimony of Mike Chattin, the man who Kiser was sharing a house with at the time. Indeed, Chattin testified that Kiser was guilty of the murder.
When questioned, Chattin informed police that Kiser had returned home on the night of the murders with an unsettling tale to tell. According to Chattin, Kiser had claimed that he’d murdered Bond – and stated that he’d even attempted to escape in the officer’s vehicle.
Kiser had allegedly told Chattin that the plan failed when he was unable to get Bond’s car into gear. When others were able to confirm that the officer’s vehicle required the driver to hit the brake first, Kiser’s fate seemed to be sealed. Indeed, on November 20, 2003, he was subsequently convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.
However, Kiser wasn’t about to go down without a fight. In fact, less than a year of his sentence had passed before he filed an appeal. Although Kiser claimed that his counsel had been ineffective, the judge ruled against a new trial.
Eventually, a date was set – Kiser was due to be executed on May 20, 2010. However, the event was delayed when his lawyers petitioned against it. Then, in October 2010 a judge decided that the evidence in Kiser’s case could be reviewed.
It was the start of a lengthy legal battle that still continues to this day. After several years of petitions and rulings, Kiser finally found himself back in court in August 2014. Over the next few months, he would continue to plead his innocence – and beg the judge for a new trial.
According to Kiser, it was Chattin who killed Bond. He further alleged that Bond had been having an affair with Chattin’s wife, Tina, and that the jilted husband was consequently bent on revenge. After Chattin killed Bond, Kiser claimed that his housemate then set him up to take the fall.
Amazingly, new witnesses appeared to support Kiser’s allegations. Among them was Lisa Gray, an ex-girlfriend who had been in a relationship with Chattin after the murder. “Everybody that knew Mikey knew his character,” she was quoted as saying by local news outlet WRCB-TV.
Additionally, a former neighbor of Chattin’s gave some intriguing testimony. She admitted that she was afraid of Chattin and that she had, in fact, given false evidence during the initial investigation. On top of that, a new witness, Mack Heard, claimed that he’d heard Chattin all but confess to the crime.
So was Kiser an innocent man after all? Incredibly, another twist to the tale was to come. In March 2015 Kiser’s lawyers requested an analysis on some previously untested prints found at the scene. Clearly, they hoped that the results would prove that Chattin, who died in 2011, was guilty of the crime.
However, when the tests came back they didn’t have the effect that Kiser had hoped for. In fact, the fingerprints turned out to be Kiser’s, and the case against him received an unexpected boost. Sure enough, when the hearing was over, the judge refused to grant Kiser a new trial.
Yet despite the evidence against him, Kiser continues to maintain his innocence – and he’s not the only one. Currently, an online petition to free Kiser has reached more than 1,100 signatures, with many Tennessee locals expressing their apparent belief in his innocence. So, will another shocking development change his fate once again, or is this story destined to end at the executioner’s hand?