Alibi witness, DNA evidence feature in Friday’s testimony in Knoxville double murder trial

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A double homicide trial continued in Knoxville Friday as the material alibi witness took the stand. Norman Clark is charged with killing Brittany Eldridge and their unborn child Zeke. A woman Clark was seeing at the time of Eldridge’s murder was on the stand for several hours.

Leanne Hawn said she met Norman Clark on a dating website. Hawn is an assistant principal at Fulton High School and requested she be put on leave during the trial because she felt it would be a distraction.

Hawn and Clark were seeing each other in December 2011 when Eldridge and Zeke were murdered. Hawn testified that on December 12, 2011, she texted Clark asking him to come over to her home.

Previous story: Friends of murdered pregnant Knoxville woman, sexual partners of suspect testify in trial

“I sent, ‘Are you coming?’ – something similar to that. Then I finally heard back from him about 9:15, 9:20. I said, ‘I’m already in bed,’ ” said Hawn, who is Clark’s alibi witness.

Clark eventually came over, but she didn’t hear Him come in which she found surprising because her door was noisy when opened.

Leanne Hawn
Leanne Hawn

“It was kind of messed up. I would have to put it in a little bit then slam it with my hand and another part of the key so it wouldn’t go through,” said Hawn.

Hawn testified she told Clark to come over the next day because she was tired. She fell asleep around 9:30 with her TV on. She says around 10:30, Clark came over without any warning, which was unusual.

“At about 10:30 or 10:40 I woke up and Clark was walking through my bedroom door. I hadn’t heard anything before then I just saw him walking through my door,” said Hawn.

Hawn says Clark told her he’d been in the other room watching TV. He left at 6 a.m. and later called her saying Eldridge, his coworker, was dead.

“He told me he was the number one suspect in her death, and it wasn’t fair, and that he was being accused of something he didn’t do,” said Hawn.

The defense pointed out that Hawn fell asleep with the TV on in her bedroom and that could be why she didn’t hear him come in earlier.

The prosecution started Friday by introducing a timeline of events leading up to Eldridge's death based on cell phone records and emails.
The prosecution started Friday by introducing a timeline of events leading up to Eldridge’s death based on cell phone records and emails.

The prosecution started Friday by introducing a timeline of events leading up to Eldridge’s death based on cell phone records and emails. The day before the murder, Eldridge talked to a friend about planning to meet with Clark later that night.

“I asked him if it was bad. He said, ‘No, it was good. I think he just wants to talk baby stuff finally so pray that it goes well,’ ” read Assistant District Attorney General Leslie Nassios

TBI agent Keith Proctor, who did the DNA analysis from the crime scene, then took the stand. Proctor said he did not find Clark’s DNA on a purse found dumped out in Eldridge’s apartment. Instead, he said he found unknown DNA.

Proctor also testified that he found DNA from an unknown man on lingerie and was able to determine this DNA was not Clark’s. Hair was also found on her body. The TBI testified it was from a male but couldn’t determine whose hair it was.

“How accurate is DNA?” asked defense attorney Greg Isaacs.

“The result I obtained from this DNA is very accurate,” said Proctor.

In cross examination, the defense pointed out that there were unknown male DNA samples and that sometimes Clark’s DNA was excluded from samples.

“It looks like, or you tell me, that lingerie was not in a position where she was not wearing it as she lay there?” asked Isaacs.

“I would assume that, yes,” said Proctor.

“So it appears the person the committed this homicide would of had to place this article of clothing in that position on her body correct?” asked Isaacs. The state objected to this question.

The trial is scheduled to continue into next week.

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