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home : latest news : latest news August 28, 2014

9/13/2013 6:01:00 AM
DeMocker trial: Jury learns about James Knapp's life, death
Scott Orr
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - As the defense in Steven DeMocker's murder trial moved into high gear Thursday, attorneys called a man who tried to sell his business to James Knapp, as well as the Prescott Police detective who investigated Knapp's alleged suicide.

DeMocker is accused of bludgeoning to death his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, in 2008 for financial gain, but his attorneys have been advancing a theory that Knapp, who lived in her guesthouse, was unstable and potentially violent, and could have murdered Kennedy.

On Thursday, testimony came from Glen Elvenholl, who owned - and tried to sell - a Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies franchise in Prescott Valley in 2007.

Knapp expressed serious interest in buying the store. In one meeting with Elvenholl, he brought Kennedy, whom he introduced as "my girlfriend," although he could not recall if Knapp had said it in her presence.

It was clear, Elvenholl said, "she was the source of his funding," which would be about $260,000.

He said Knapp took a long time to get the financing together, and then, in February 2008, when the store was about to be closed and the fixtures repossessed, Knapp told him in an email that he had cancer and "I'm not sure if I will even be alive next month. They think (the cancer) has probably metastasized."

Elvenholl was skeptical. "My interpretation is that the deal had fallen apart."

Defense attorney Craig Williams asked, "It's six months in (to negotiations) and now he's dying of cancer. Did you believe that?"

"No," Elvenholl said.

Also on the stand was former Prescott Police Det. Norm Peterson, who was the lead detective in the investigation into Knapp's death by gunshot wound in January 2009.

The defense theory here is that Knapp didn't shoot himself, but instead was firing at intruders when he was shot in the chest.

In fact, Peterson said, the case was originally classified as a homicide. There was furniture overturned; bullet holes in the walls, a door and a window casing; and a telephone was off the hook on the floor.

Williams, as he has with other law enforcement witnesses who investigated Kennedy's murder, suggested that Peterson had not thoroughly investigated Knapp's death, repeatedly asking, "Did you check on that?

"Let's cut to the chase," he asked at one point, "you never did find the bullet that went through Mr. Knapp?"

"Correct," replied Peterson.

Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore showed three photos of Knapp in a Santa Claus hat, holding a handgun to his chest, and, in two of them, a knife.

Asked how he determined it was a suicide, Peterson cited what he called "hesitation shots," what Knapp's friends said about him, that fact that he was about to be evicted, and his medical history - "he believed he had terminal cancer."

Knapp's autopsy showed no indication of cancer.

In discussing the fact that Knapp's ex-wife said Knapp loved his two sons, Peterson said he believed Knapp had "staged" the scene to look like it could have been a home invasion so they wouldn't know he had killed himself.

Trial resumes Tuesday, with DeMocker's brother, James, expected to testify.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @AZNewsguy.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Article comment by: To Don Zeed

Like so much about the prosecution's case, there is no basis I could find in the record for this claim about the brother. But like other lies the prosecution has told about this case, it's taken on a life of its own. Sensible people are right to ask where these accusations come from, but the people who post them will never give you an answer. Why? Because they just make this stuff up.

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: Don Zeed

There are comments here about the brother James being involved with the murder of or "badgering" the tenant Knapp, but there's zero mention of this in the prosecution's documents filed on line. If the prosecution isn't pushing this theory as part of its case, where is this accusation coming from?

Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Article comment by: I'm not laughing... nothing about this is funny

Others may laugh at the suggestion that the DeMocker case is important to the local authorities, but I don't. PPD, YCAO, and YCSO each have a lot credibility on the line here, and I have no doubt they are strongly I interested in seeing this guy convicted....which he should be if the evidence proves such. But I'm sure I'm not alone in being troubled by the comments being added here from someone who's clearly sitting in the courtroom. First, if this testimony is taking place, then why doesn't the Courier report it? Second, why the note on the gun to keep the testing information from the defense? Third, I asked a friend who is a medical examiner in G about going out to a crime scene, and he responded that NEVER happens. The ME has the responsibility of interpreting the body, not the scene...that is the job of the detectives. Lastly, if detectives used anecdotal rather than forensic means to conclude the victim committed suicide, then its appropriate to question that conclusion if it is being pushed by YCSO, who clearly has a stake in the outcome. The timing is suspicious. I'm not going to call it a conspiracy (although
Editor: Comment exceeds 200-word limit,

Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Article comment by: Wrong RJ

Obviously RJ has never heard of the suicide of San Diego Charger Junior Seau who committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in 2012. Some people aim for the heart rather than the head.

From the Testimony is also doing plenty of her own speculating. Medical examiners do sometimes visit the scene when they are not initially sure what type of death they have. Viewing the event in its original state can help the medical examiner make a determination. I have to laugh at the suggestion that the DeMocker case was so important to law enforcement that they would rule Knapp's death a suicide instead of something else. (What? A homicide? If a homicide, the person that was badgering Knapp the most was DeMocker's brother. So, should we charge him with Knapp's murder?) Steven DeMocker and the DeMocker family have an over-inflated perception of their own importance in Yavapai County.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: From the testimony

PPD treated the Knapp scene as a homicide up until the time YCSO detectives Brown and McDermott dropped by. About the same time, in a move highly uncharacteristic for a Medical Examiner, Dr. Keene dropped by the scene for a visit. Soon thereafter, it was decided Knapp must have killed himself and staged the scene. No attempt was made to preserve the body for gunpowder residue testing. Knapp was bagged as quickly as they made up the suicide story. Brilliant move by PPD to let the efficient YCSO do their detective work!

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: R J

A person committing suicide does not shoot themselves in the chest.

Posted: Monday, September 16, 2013
Article comment by: tell it like it is

who looses? the taxpayer's who are paying for this fiasco. who should be held accountable shiela polk for taking three years + to figure out she had no concrete evidence to convict. the other guy who looses is democker spent three+ years in solitary confinement in our county jail. his name slandered all over this county spent whatever monies he had to defend himself. and by law he cannot come back and sue the county or shiela polk where's the justice?

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: The Doctor and the Judge appear to be on the same page

Both say "I wouldn't be surprised if there was an acquittal or a hung jury". When THE JUDGE makes a statement like that, and says this isn't the strongest case he's seen, it truly makes fools of the folks who try to argue the merits of the case in a newspaper blog. Seriously people, if you're not in the courtroom and an experienced judge is talking like this, doesn't it give you the slightest moment of pause? Or are you always going to consider this guy guilty no matter what happens in the courtroom?

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Doctor's Wishful Thinking

How would this guy or ANYONE know what the jury was thinking? The only defense so far is their theory on ONE other person- so the prosecution thinks democker did it and the defense thinks Knapp did it. That's hardly enough to bring reasonable doubt. Will the defendant take the stand? Why would he NOT? He's "innocent" or supposed to be. Otherwise this guy will fry. Too much great evidence has been presented. Knapp did it as much as one of the daughters - he actually HAD a part in the cover-up and know apparently blogs for a living. There is far more motivation for one of the daughters to be a suspect than Knapp or anyone else. Unless an otherwise real person is presented as the potential murderer, then the evidence CLEARLY supports that this defendant had his hands ON HIS OWN GOLF CLUB THAT NIGHT. Guilty!!

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Prosecution Needs To Stop Speculation

The prosecution needs to stop the three-ring circus character assassination of Knapp from the defense. Lots of speculation by the defense but no actual evidence presented of any motive or opportunity by Knapp to kill Carol. Have a Knapp family member or physician discuss the circumstances of Knapp's illness. As one person suggested it could be something embarrassing (debilitating STD?) that Knapp preferred to attribute to cancer. Bring on anyone close to Carol who had detailed knowledge of Knapp's and Carol's relationship. Perhaps, bring Carol's mother back to testify what she knew from the nightly phone calls with her daughter. The prosecution needs to be able to say in its closing--who are you going to believe-- speculation from the defense of a man who already tried to frame Knapp in a fictitious email that he had planted into court evidence or the adults confidants of Carol?

Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Article comment by: Where's the testimony from the DPS lab technician?

The court also heard from a DPS lab technician who performed the DNA testing on Knapp's gun. She testified that the paperwork accompanying the gun had a note attached directing that the DeMocker defense team was not to be informed of the testing. Who would write that, and why?

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: It's easy to see how we got to this point

It's always the ex-husband because it couldn't possibly be someone else. Only people who are related to a defendant would write to say they think the evidence is not convincing. There are no doctors anywhere that over-prescribe painkillers. There is no way to get narcotics except from a doctor or hospital. A man who abuses narcotics and threatens violence against a girlfriend that's dumping him is just lonely and misunderstood and can't possibly be dangerous. A man who stages his own suicide to look like a murder would never stage a murder to look like a suicide. A man who keeps binoculars near a window where he can see in his neighbor's bedroom windows just uses them for birdwatching. The absence of DNA from a defendant at a crime scene means he was there because the only possible explanation is that he cleaned it up. The presence of other DNA at a crime scene means the defendant planted it there because there can't be any other explanation. Cops always tell the truth. Prosecutors are always more committed to justice than winning cases. People who post comments in newspaper blogs are always sane and rational.

See? You can make up anything you want and pretend it's true. And then you can get a job with county law enforcement, or at least get to be a groupie.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Doctor Bob

Beginning to look like we may end up with a hung jury.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Mayo Clinic Drug Pushers NOT

There are HIPA laws, and Knapp's medical records being divulged are breaking those laws. If I were a member of his family I would bring suit against the defense and DeMocker's family not only for HIPA violations but for the damage it has caused his family and him.
Knapp was being treated for an illness, which illness I don't know, but it was something that made him lose much weight and he looked sickly. Mayo Clinic will not under any circumstances prescribe opiates for well people. DeMocker's family can discount the fact that Knapp was ill, but he was. If you saw him years before and at the time of Carol's murder it was obvious he was not well. Mayo wouldn't allow doctor shopping and are well aware of people who are drug seekers. Mayo Clinic is the most reputable hospital in the country. They would have sent Knapp away and not treated him if he wasn't suffering a serious illness.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: RJ isn't RJ

RJ's comments are always so out of touch. She always writes the same thing. It's always ignorant. It's always blaming. It's always somebody else's fault. But even you had/have doubts of Steve's innocence, if you are who I believe you are. You questioned his innocence yet want him to be found not guilty.You've forgiven for the ultimate sin. You know the truth deep in your heart & soul, if you choose to ignore it that is your choice and it will eat you.
People talk and if you are who I think you might be you told a few people about your concerns which they repeated to other people. Whether he is found guilty or not guilty you will always know the truth. You can't hide from it. He won't ever be free and his life will be a horrible one wherever he is. People, think OJ, Casey Anthony, never have a good life after murdering people. Nothing will work in his favor.

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Article comment by: Cancer was not the problem

The blogger obviously doesn't know Knapp, who gleefully announced to friends in November 2008 that he was 'miraculously cured of cancer'. He actually only ever had some superficial skin cancers, which were removed at Mayo. He never had any life-threatening cancer, but he did enjoy the sympathy that tossing around the 'C' word got him. He also complained of chronic back and abdominal pain, for which he was unfortunately addicted to pain killers, washed down most evenings with champagne.

He may deserve sympathy for many reasons, but having cancer was not one of them.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Marlene Stephens

I knew Jim Knapp and saw him a few times a week for 10 years before his death by suicide. He was never violent in any way. He was indeed very sick with something. He loved his two boys very much. For their sake, please be careful about what you say and write. They are surviving an unspeakable tragedy with rare grace and, because of their extraordinary mother, are growing into fine young men.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: R J

Lots of reasonable doubt. Not a very good case against Mr. DeMocker at all.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: reality hits you hard bro

Alot of people are not seeing the real picture here. Years ago, seldom if ever could you get a murder conviction if you did not have 3 things. 1 a murder weapon, 2 motive and 3 a body. Now we have convictions on a regular basis based solely on circumstantial evidence. In this case it seems that there is a mountain of it. And now add motive they have, a body, they have, but no murder weapon. We know who owned it, we know where it belonged and on and on with so much circumstantial evidence it seems to me that the evidence is overwhelming without a doubt. The defense is doing what it is supposed to do and that is to throw everything at the jury no matter what and hope it leaves a smidgen of doubt in even 1 jurror, that is their job. This case is sad in so many ways, for so many people , i just hope the jury gets it right in their eyes and never second guesses themselves when this is over.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: So what WAS Knapp suffering from? ?

(Apart from the delusion that Kennedy was his girlfriend and sugar momma? ). Seriously, when do we find out what he had if it wasn't cancer? Or was he just doctor shopping to get access to prescription painkillers? I don't buy the theory that he must have been sick just because a for-profit clinic was selling services to him...that happens every day to people who aren't really ill.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Keystone Kops Ride Again

These guys have to quit handling shooting deaths. Just call Ghostbusters and get out of the way. The guys who did the Kennedy murder botched up the crime scene, took bad pix, they had no business doing that stuff. Go catch some dawgs and cats.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: The cops theorize that Knapp staged a crime scene?

Where have we heard this before?

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Paging Barney Fife

Really? That's how they "investigated" a guy with a bullet that went through his chest? I'm telling you what, judging how these two incidents were "investigated" the YCSO and PPD should stick to arresting jaywalkers. They never found the bullet that killed him for Godsakes. It was kinda like "yeah it really looks like a homicide but the guy probably just wanted to make it look that way, People do that a lot I hear. Just send the body to the coroner and clean up all these bullets." If I were a juror I'd ask to be excused so I wouldn't die laughing.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Agreed. The person posting

...is guessing that Knapp had an illness, making the entire post speculative.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: You Have Got To Be KIDDING!

Peterson - you just completely made up a story? What on earth? I'm sorry but it does not sound like this is your field. Wow. This would be a comedy of errors if it wasn't so tragic.

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