Murder trial begins for Angelina Co. man accused of killing girlfriend

Jarrard Holland mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.
Jarrard Holland mug shot courtesy of Angelina County Jail.

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An Angelina County man is back in court being tried for a second time for the 2004 murder of his then-girlfriend Kimberly O'Quinn.

Jarrard Holland was tried for O'Quinn's murder back in October 2007.  The five-day trial ended with a hung jury.

According to previous reports, Holland is charged with the shooting death of O'Quinn.

When the alleged incident happened, Holland claimed O'Quinn committed suicide right in front of him, but the Angelina County Sheriff's Office charged Holland in the death following a review of forensic evidence.

The 21-year-old woman was found dead at a home on Tom Hampton Road in Pollok six years ago.

"It's hard to realize, as lively as Kim was and full of life and joy and love for everybody, to know that her life was taken short," said Kimberly O'Quinn's Grandfather John Riley O'Quinn.  "It's really tough to go through all those statements again."

John said Holland and Kimberly were living together at the time, but that night she was packing up to move to her grandparents.

Holland has been out of jail on bond since before the 2007 trial.

An Angelina County Jury was sworn in around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Judge Paul White's courtroom.

Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington told the jury in opening arguments that evidence should show O'Quinn's parents divorced when she was young.  She moved to Oklahoma to live with her mother, then later moved back to the area to live with her dad.  Herrington explained to the jury O'Quinn may have had some suicidal thoughts, but she was being treated and on her way to recovery.

Herrington said on the night of March 13, 2004, there was a gathering at Holland's parents for his birthday.  Herrington said it appeared both Holland and O'Quinn had been drinking that night and got into an argument.  He said O'Quinn at some point told Holland she was leaving and drove to the residence where Holland lived.  Later, Herrington explained Holland supposedly came back to his parents' house shouting, "She's blown her head off, she's killed herself."

Herrington said he believes the evidence will show when two of Holland's friends arrived on the scene they saw O'Quinn and said, "Don't touch anything." Both O'Quinn and Holland's hands were swabbed for gunshot residue. Herrington said hair was found on the floor that appeared to have been torn out and O'Quinn was laying on her back, on the floor with a gun on her chest directly aligned with her body.

Through several objections by the defense attorney, Herrington admitted to the jury "It's not a perfect investigation." Herrington said Holland was interviewed regarding the incident on more than one occasion and he said the jury should pay attention to the consistency of his statements. Herrington said evidence points to O'Quinn being in an abusive relationship.

The first witness, Gregory Cordova, 42, was called to the stand Wednesday morning.  The Hudson man has been in trouble with the law in the past and has had a history of drug use.

He testified he has been friends of the Holland family for years and on March 13, 2004 he went to a birthday party for Holland.  He said guests at the party were drinking and socializing.

"I remember Jarrard and Kim having an argument and going inside the house," Cordova said.  "It wasn't pretty, like I said, they were pretty verbal with each other.  Their tone was not good, let's just say that."

Cordova said O'Quinn came out of the house and she was upset and left in her car.  He said Holland left in his truck after O'Quinn.  Later, Cordova testified Holland came back in his truck, "…he opens the door and he starts screaming, he was crying...'Oh my God, Kim shot herself, she's blown her head off.'"  Cordova remembered the family tried to calm Holland down, "but, there really was no calming him down."

Cordova said he jumped in Holland's truck and drove about a mile to Tom Hampton Road where the couple was living.

Cordova said when he and a friend, Patrick Strickland, got to the house, he saw clothes stacked in a car and the door to the trailer was closed.  Cordova said he went inside and saw, "…a bunch of stuff that was obviously furniture and stuff….it was just in disarray to me."

Cordova went on to say he saw clumps of hair all over the trailer. "There was hair from that front door all the way to that bedroom where she was," he remembered.

Herrington asked Cordova to describe the scene and he said, "…there was stuff everywhere Clyde….you could tell there had been a struggle in that room." Cordova said his focus was to find O'Quinn and render aid.

"We found Kim on the right-hand side of the bed," he said.  "Kim was straight …the gun was straight down the center of her.  It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen in my life…she was still gasping for air."

Cordova said he told his friend Strickland not to touch O'Quinn because he had doubts that she really killed herself because she was laying "straight as a board."

"She [O'Quinn] was shot up under her chin and one of her eyes…was all messed up, had blood in it, she was laying there and she was still breathing,"  Cordova choked up remembering the scene.

Cordova testified Strickland called 911.

Defense Attorney John Heath Jr. began questioning Cordova about his testimony in the first murder trial in 2007. Heath asked Cordova if he lied about past criminal convictions last time he sat on the stand under oath. Cordova admitted he lied. Heath continued questioning Cordova about what he testified to seeing that March 2004 night. Cordova said he did sit down with Strickland and discuss the events of the night before giving a statement to the Angelina County Sheriff's Office.

Heath pointed out Cordova had been in trouble with the law and would've done anything to stay out of prison, but Cordova denied it.

Cordova later told Herrington neither he nor Strickland moved anything on or connected to O'Quinn's body.  He said they just moved the phone.  He then talked the jury through a picture of the crime scene.

Joe Burton, a Lufkin Fire Department firefighter and paramedic, took the stand Wednesday afternoon to testify about the night he responded to a 911 call on Tom Hampton Road in March 2004.  Burton said they were told they were responding to a gunshot wound.  The EMT said someone met them at the end of the road to direct them to the house.

"Once we got inside and we realized that we had trauma to the head, my partner went back to the med. unit," Burton said.

He said the house, "…appeared to be kind of in disarray.  There were items on the bed that seemed out of place."

Burton went on to describe what he saw that night.  "Ms. O'Quinn was lying on the floor with her feet toward the middle of the room and her feet were up next to the wall," he said.  Burton went on to say her arms were by her side and "There was a .22 rifle lying on her chest pointed at her chin."

Herrington asked Burton if there was anything unusual about O'Quinn.

"The way she was laying appeared to be posed," he said.  Burton explained if someone is standing up and they shoot themselves, "they're not going to fall straight backwards, they're going to crumble."

Burton testified they moved only what was necessary to provide care for the patient.

"She was unconscious; she had an entry wound underneath her chin," said Burton.  "I was unable to find an exit wound on initial examination."  Burton said although O'Quinn was breathing, she was having difficulty breathing, her left eye was bulging, and her pulse was weak.

The defense attorney began questioning Burton about how the call came through.  The paramedic said they were dispatched to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It's only the first day of testimony, and many in the courtroom have heard it all before and say they're ready for it to be over.

"I'm hoping to get some good time out of it, but we'll just wait and see what the jury comes up with," said the victim's grandfather.  "However, it turns out, we'll go on with our lives."

The trial is expected to continue into next week.

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