Before he goes on trial for first degree murder, Jeffrey Wade Chapman wants a professional tattoo artist to remove or cover a prominent “Murder” tattoo on his neck.
The defense attorney for Chapman has filed a motion in Barton County District Court asking that the defendant’s tattoo not be seen or mentioned during his upcoming jury trial. Chapman is charged with first degree murder in the Nov. 11, 2011, death of Damon Galyardt, whose body was found that morning by hunters at 250 SW 60 Road. The defense is also asking that the trial be moved to another county.
Pre-trial motions will be heard Wednesday morning. The trial is scheduled to get underway on Monday, April 28, and is expected to last two weeks.
According to the motion filed by defense attorney Kurt Kerns, Wichita, Chapman has asked the jail to allow a professional tattoo artist to remove and/or cover up the tattoo across his neck that is a mirror image of the word “murder” in capital letters. The motion notes it is a large tattoo that cannot be easily hidden with clothing.
“Mr. Chapman has secured a licensed tattoo artist from Hays who is willing to go to the jail,” the motion states. “Mr. Chapman’s tattoos are not relevant to any material facts and Mr. Chapman asks for the court to exclude any mention of his tattoos at trial and further to be allowed to cover them up in an appropriate manner. 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.”
The State is being represented by Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Karrer and Assistant Barton County Attorney Amy J. Mellor. Their response to the motion is that the State “does not oppose the defendant from covering his tattoo using clothing, bandage or other means compliant with jail policy.”
However, Sheriff Brian Bellendir has advised the court that Kansas Administrative Code 69-15-14 states, “tattoo artists shall not practice at any location other than a licensed facility,” which meets specific standards for cleanliness and safety set by the Kansas Board of Cosmetology. The sheriff also opposes any request to transport Chapman to a licensed tattoo facility. Bellendir has been instructed to attend Wednesday’s pre-trial hearing, where he will be represented by Richard Boeckman, the county’s legal counsel.
On April 7 the defense also filed a motion for a change of venue, claiming pre-trial publicity will make it impossible for Chapman to get an impartial jury in Barton County. Kerns’ motion cities news stories in the Great Bend Tribune and other papers, as well as news and opinions posted on websites and Facebook.