Kirk and Doneal Clark appeared in general-sessions court this morning for a preliminary hearing.
The husband and wife stand accused of first-degree murder in the January 19th killing of Linda Damewood in her Lake Tansi home. Doneal Clark is represented by Kevin Bryant; Kirk Clark is represented by public defender Laura Dykes.
During the hour-long hearing, Lt. Jeff Slayton of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, who’s been with the sheriff’s department for two decades, described the crime scene at 8610 Cherokee Trail on the night of January 19. He gave detailed descriptions of shattered glass in and around the home, pools of blood, and trails of blood leading from room to room within the house.
Seventy-four-year-old Linda Damewood died at the scene from a single gunshot to the back of the head; 63-year-old Andrew Schan was shot in the arm; 73-year-old Ellen Cairns was shot in the hip.
Slayton also discussed how the joint investigation led to the development of two suspects, Kirk and Doneal Clark, and how he watched from nearby as the pair was apprehended during a traffic stop.
He explained evidence at the scene led investigators to believe there had been multiple assailants. Six bullets had penetrated windows and glass doors at the residence. One of the holes was noticeably larger than the rest and investigators concluded it had been made by a higher-caliber round. Five .22-caliber shell casings from a long rifle were retrieved at the scene.
Damewood was shot from outside the sunroom with a .243-caliber round as she sat in her recliner; Slayton described finding skull fragments and brain matter at the scene.
In addition, Slayton noted, entry to the home was made via a glass door in Damewood’s bedroom; a safe was taken from her bedroom, as was her purse.
The safe was discovered dumped on Clear Creek Road; the purse – which contained personal items belonging to both Damewood and Schan – was later recovered in Fentress County.
Slayton said he noted glass shards embedded in Doneal Clark’s shoes when she was brought in for questioning.
Slayton told of ongoing bickering between Damewood and Doneal Clark in the weeks and months prior to the shooting that apparently came to a head the afternoon of the shooting. He related how, in videotaped conversations with investigators, Kirk Clark said he’d been at their camper off Plateau Road on the afternoon of January 19 when Doneal returned from having “fussed” with Damewood, because Doneal owed her money. He said Doneal had told him she wanted to get her hands on some guns and she “wanted to teach her a lesson.”
Slayton described the two weapons reported to have been stolen from Ronald Hall, a local man known to the Clarks; Hall told investigators the Clarks returned the .22 rifle to him in a “muddy, dirty” condition; and Doneal gave back the .243 rifle wrapped in a blanket
In a manner described by multiple individuals present for the late-morning hearing as condescending, Dykes’ questioning of Slayton bordered on badgering.
When asked why there had been antagonism between the two over money, Slayton replied, “Damewood sold pills,” clarifying, “Doneal owed her money for pills.”
Dykes later called Clark’s mother, Wanda Clark, to the stand and, after a meandering line of questioning about her son’s history, Dykes firmly argued her client’s bond of $2,020,000 was excessive, given the nature of most of the charges against him.
Judge Larry Warner eventually reduced Kirk Clark’s bond amount to $500,000.
The case is expected to be bound over for the grand jury, and then on to criminal court.