Apr 24, 2014

Jeffrey Chapman fears ‘murder’ tattoo may sway jury in murder trial

Jeffrey Chapman fears ‘murder’ tattoo may sway jury in murder trial. A man with the word 'MURDER' prominently tattooed on his neck has been accused of killing a man - and now he wants the inking removed before his trial.

Jeffrey Wade Chapman's lawyers have filed a motion in Barton County District Court asking that his body art not be seen or mentioned during his trial, which begins next week.

They're worried the tattoo, a mirror image of the word 'murder' in capital letters, will prejudice the jury.

Chapman is charged with first degree murder in the November 2011 shooting death of Damon Galyardt, whose body was found by hunters in a Kansas field.

According to the motion filed by defense attorney Kurt Kerns, Chapman has asked the jail to allow a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover up the tattoo. They claim the inking is too large to be covered with clothing.

'Mr. Chapman has secured a licensed tattoo artist from Hays who is willing to go to the jail,' the motion states, GB Tribune reported.

'The fact that he has ‘murder’ tattooed across his neck is irrelevant to the State’s case and extremely prejudicial to Mr. Chapman if introduced at trial or observed by the jury.'

However State prosecutors argue Chapman can simply cover up the tat with 'clothing, bandage or other means compliant with jail policy'.

Sheriff Brian Bellendir told the court that Kansas Administrative Code 69-15-14 precludes tattoo artists from performing inkings outside of licensed facilities due to strict cleanliness standards.

He also refused to transport Chapman to a licensed facility.

Chapman's lawyers have also filed a motion seeking a change of venue, claiming the pre-trial publicity will make it impossible for Chapman to get an impartial jury in Barton County.

It is not clear if Chapman has a criminal history or why he had the tattoo done.

Chapman was arrested on November 16, 2011 and charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of 25-year-old Damon Galyardt, KAKE.com reported.

Hunters found Galyardt's body in a roadside ditch near South West 60 Road and 30 Avenue in Barton County, Kansas on November 12. He died from a single gun shot wound.

During Chapman's preliminary hearing in October 2012, testimony indicated he was angry because of the way Galyardt, a drug user, treated Chapman's friend, a woman with whom Galyardt was living, according to Hutchnews.com.

Meanwhile, Hutch Post reported that the night before his body was found, Galyardt and an unidentified female tried to used counterfeit money at a convenience store. He fled from police.

The news site also reported that Galyardt had served time for drugs and criminal possession of a firearm for cases out of Edwards County.

Chapman's trial is scheduled to get underway on April 28, and is expected to last two weeks.

GB Tribune reported that pre-trial motions will be heard on Wednesday morning.