By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Prosecutors say the victim paid to take the GED just four days before she was found shot in the head, gasping for air.
Family members said 21-year-old Kimberly O'Quinn was planning on moving on with her life.
Suicide or murder, is a question both attorneys are trying to answer. However, one thing is certain, on March 13, 2004, something went terribly wrong.
"She had plans to go ahead and be a beautician," said Kimberly's grandfather John Riley O'Quinn.
O'Quinn was found still alive, but with a gunshot wound to the head just 12 days before she was apparently scheduled to take her GED. Her boyfriend, Jarrard Holland, is being tried a second time for her murder.
One of the first to arrive on the scene, Sgt. Allen Hill, testified the couple's "bedroom was trashed." He said there were bloody sheets on the bed, holes in the wall, describing it as "...just a bad scene."
Holland's lawyer questioned Hill about an imperfect investigation. Hill agreed the investigation could have been conducted differently, but said, "...something wasn't right. Something was definitely wrong at that scene."
"I don't know what the jurors are going to think about it, but it's a lot to consider, but knowing Kim, she didn't commit suicide," said the grandfather.
As sure as he is about what happened that night, Holland's team maintains O'Quinn committed suicide.
The defense questioned the victim's father about her past suicidal behavior. He said he didn't think his daughter would've yelled for help the night she slit her wrist if she wanted to kill herself.
Ben O'Quinn went on to say six years ago, "I think she may have had help."
"...Me knowing Kim as well as I did, I know it didn't happen that way," Kimberly's grandfather said.
Soon, the jury will decide if Holland is responsible for Kimberly O'Quinn's death.
For now, testimony continues and both families wait another day for resolution.
Holland was first tried in 2007, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
The retrial is expected to end this week.
EDITORS' NOTE: Holley Nees covered the trial and provided live accounts today at KTRE.com. Following is her account.
A witness said Angelina College records reveals four days before she was found dead, 21-year-old Kimberly O'Quinn paid to take the GED. Testimony continued Monday morning for an Angelina County man on trial again for the 2004 shooting death of his girlfriend.
Jarrard Holland was tried for O'Quinn's murder back in October 2007. The five-day trial ended with a hung jury. O'Quinn was found dead at a home where the couple supposedly lived on Tom Hampton Road in Pollok.
Sellestine Hunt, Director of Testing and Student Development for Angelina College, testified about testing records the college holds on O'Quinn. According to documentation, O'Quinn had signed up to take the GED. She was found with a gunshot wound to the head, below the chin 12 days before the scheduled test date.
Hunt explained studying could be somewhat stressful for students planning on taking the GED, but not attending the learning center.
The state called Angelina County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Allen Hill to the stand. Hill, one of the first officers on the scene in March of 2004, testified earlier in this trial.
"When I pulled up there was a med. unit there," Hill remembered.
He said Greggory Cordova and Patrick Strickland were at the house when he arrived. The two men testified earlier in the trial they went to find O'Quinn after Holland said she had shot herself.
Hill said he noticed a lot of hair on the floor when he arrived at the couple's residence. He said he instructed the ambulance to stay until O'Quinn's hands had been bagged.
"The living room area was kind of in disarray," Hill said. "It [the bedroom] was trashed, it was torn up, everything was torn upside down."
Hill said there were bloody sheets on the bed. "It was just a bad scene. There were some holes in the wall," he said.
When Hill said he arrived at the hospital O'Quinn's hands were cold and still dry and he didn't notice any moisture on her hands. Heath pointed out earlier in the trial Hill bagged her hands to swab for gunshot residue with plastic bags rather than paper. Testimony revealed paper is the preferred type of bag, but Hill didn't have any that night, so plastic was used.
"She was barely alive," Hill said.
Hill said he talked to Holland about the incident.
"He [Holland] told me that she was moving out and they were fighting," he said.
Holland apparently told Hill O'Quinn had hit her head on a table and that's why there was hair on the floor, but Hill said he didn't think Holland was being truthful.
"The hair on the floor had been pulled out," he said.
Hill said Holland claimed O'Quinn's clothes were thrown in the car, but Hill remembered seeing the clothes neatly placed, folded in the backseat.
When Hill talked to the defendant, he said Holland was not under arrest at the time. Hill said Holland had been drinking.
"I believe he [Holland] was intoxicated," Hill said.
Holland's defense attorney John Heath Jr. questioned Hill about his statement claiming Holland was intoxicated.
He said didn't recall seeing any blood on Holland.
Hill talked about the placement of the gun to the victim's chin.
"The gun was close to her that's a fact," said Hill. "You knew it was a close range shot," Heath questioned. "Yes sir," Hill replied.
Hill said it appeared the gunshot wound happened when O'Quinn was lying on the ground.
The defense then went through a series of questions about the placement of the gun. Heath laid on the floor of the courtroom with a gun trying to demonstrate how there could be many different ways for the incident to have taken place. For example, Heath pointed out that even if someone was trying to shoot O'Quinn, if the person was holding the gun a certain way, the victim could turn their head and push the gun away.
"It appeared to me she was shot lying down," Hill repeated.
Heath asked Hill why he didn't take any pictures of the clothes neatly placed in the car if it raised his suspicions about Holland's story that clothes were thrown in the vehicle.
Hill, a patrol sergeant in 2004, said the only time patrol takes pictures is if the Criminal Investigation Department is not called to the scene. Hill said he should've made sure pictures of the clothes were taken, but he didn't.
"The dispatch call was self-inflicted gunshot wound, wasn't it," questioned Heath.
"When I got there I knew something wasn't right," Hill testified. "Something was definitely wrong at that scene."
Ben O'Quinn, 59, took the stand to testify about the last time he talked to his daughter before her death.
O'Quinn explained he and Kimberly's mother have been divorced since she was four.
He said his daughter quit attending school her junior year at Central High School and she later quit cosmetology school in Oklahoma.
O'Quinn said his daughter liked to shoot guns and he also discussed the night she cut her wrist.
"Kim was sitting in a chair at the bar and I could see some blood," he said she had used a hunting knife with a four inch blade. "The knife was razor sharp when I left it there on the bar."
He said they sewed her arm up at the hospital and kept her there overnight.
"She could come back to my house any time and she knew it," he said Kimberly was also welcome at her grandparent's house.
He said Kimberly was in a good mood the last time he talked to her. She was supposedly going to leave Holland and get her GED to finish cosmetology school.
"I gave her the money to get her GED," he said.
Heath questioned the father about his daughter's past suicidal tendencies.
"I don't think she was trying to kill herself," he said of the night she cut herself with the hunting knife. He said she wouldn't have yelled for his help if she was trying to commit suicide.
Holland's attorney asked O'Quinn if he just could not accept his daughter tried to kill herself in August with the hunting knife, or in March.
"I think she may have had help in March," the father responded.
The father told Herrington he was aware his daughter was being treated for depression while she was living with Holland.
Emily O'Quinn Meisel was on the stand, without the jury present, explaining how she was in Galveston with Holland and O'Quinn when an argument began between the couple.
Holland became angry because O'Quinn was wearing what he felt was an inappropriate tank top, Meisel explained. She testified the defendant was using profanity very loudly.
"She tried to walk away and he grabbed her by the arm and kind of pulled her back," said Meisel. "He physically made her stay and continue the argument."
Meisel went on to say she saw injuries on O'Quinn in January of 2004.
"She opened her lip like this and showed that the inside of her lip was all busted," Meisel said O'Quinn had come over after she had supposedly had an argument with Holland.
Meisel was called to the stand Monday afternoon, with the jury present, to discuss how she had made plans to help O'Quinn study for the GED. Meisel, a middle school teacher, said she called O'Quinn before she died and arranged to start studying Monday morning.
"She was in a very good mood," said Meisel. "She was laughing and picking on me on the phone."
Meisel said she also knew the defendant. She had seen Holland several times with O'Quinn.
"She [O'Quinn] pulled her lip down like this and showed her that the inside was all busted and bleeding," Meisel testified.
She said O'Quinn had some scars on her body from past incidents, like when she cut her arm breaking through a window. Meisel said they were in Oklahoma and O'Quinn supposedly broke through the window at a friend's house to get her purse that she had left inside.
Meisel told the jury about her vacation with Holland and O'Quinn to Galveston when the couple supposedly got into an argument because Holland thought O'Quinn's Playboy tank top was inappropriate.
"She tried to walk away after their argument kept getting worse and worse…and he grabbed her arm and pulled her back," she recalled. "It was extremely intense."
Judge Paul White gave the jury instructions on how to specifically consider Meisel's testimony.
Meisel clarified O'Quinn did wear the tank top to dinner anyway. She said O'Quinn was also using profanity during the Galveston argument.
"Were you aware that Kim had been diagnosed with more than one mental disorder," asked Heath.
The defense questioned Meisel about her knowledge of O'Quinn's past suicidal behavior. Meisel said there were different opinions in the family about whether O'Quinn was trying to kill herself or just get attention when she cut herself with a hunting knife.
The defense read a letter O'Quinn supposedly wrote to Holland for his birthday.
"I want you to know I will never give up on you for anything," Heath read aloud. "I hope you know how important that you are to me…Things aren't perfect now, but I promise things will change."
In the letter, O'Quinn apparently said she knew Holland didn't like the flowers, but "I will love you until the last one dies. I love you Kim."