Key Witness in Epperson Trial Refuses to Testify

By: Jonathan Hardison
By: Jonathan Hardison

Donald Bartley, a key witness for the prosecution in the double-murder retrial of Roger Epperson refused to testify when called to the stand.

Bartley testified against Epperson in the original trial in 1987, saying he was the lookout man the night Ed and Bessie Morris were shot execution-style back in 1985.

Bartley said a reduced-sentence plea agreement reached with Commonwealth's Attorneys at the time never materialized after his testimony, and cited that as his motivation for dragging his feet.

Bartley repeatedly replied to each question asked of him by the prosecution and defense with "I don't really remember," or "It's been a long time, I'm not really sure."

Prosecutors got around Bartley's noncompliance by reading him a question-by-question transcript of his previous testimony, and having him confirm that he had indeed said each statement.

Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Gregory told NewsCenter 13 he didn't think Bartley's belligerence would play a major role in the trial either way.

The prosecution's key witness Sherry Hodge Hamilton will take the stand first thing on Wednesday morning, then the defense is expected to begin their case by mid-morning.

The jury could have the case in their hands as early as Wednesday afternoon.

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