By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Tuesday, March 03, 2015
A former truck driver’s next murder trial didn’t begin as scheduled this past week.
Bruce Mendenhall, convicted for his role in the death of Sarah Nicole Hulbert, saw his trial date pushed back until his appeal on “evidentiary issues” is decided.
Mendenhall, who is serving a life sentence at the Riverbend maximum security prison in Nashville, was slated to make a pre-trial appearance in Wilson County, Tenn., criminal court on Monday, Feb. 23. Mendenhall faces first degree murder charges in connection with the 2007 killing of Symantha Winters, 25.
A Wilson County Circuit Court Clerk said Tuesday that Mendenhall is scheduled to appear in criminal court at 9 a.m. on Aug. 3, 2015. The August appearance, the clerk told Land Line, is scheduled partially to ensure the charges regarding Winters’ death don’t get lost in the shuffle among Mendenhall’s multiple investigations and prosecutions.
Mendenhall, 62, is serving a life sentence for Hulbert’s murder, as well as 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder. Mendenhall was apprehended in July 2007 after a detective at a truck stop noticed blood splatter on the door of Mendenhall’s yellow truck. The arrest followed several slayings of young women, some prostitutes, at truck stops in Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois.
Police have said Mendenhall implicated himself in the deaths of Hulbert, Winters, and other women shortly after he was initially arrested and questioned.
Inside Mendenhall’s truck, investigators revealed, they found a plastic bag with a large amount of blood, sex toys and at least one body part trophy removed from a victim.
The conspiracy charge came after authorities intercepted Mendenhall’s failed attempt to hire someone to kill a detective who worked on his case and two other witnesses who planned to testify against him. Mendenhall even tried to have one of the contract killings arranged to look like the crimes he was accused of at the time in an effort to make it appear the supposed real killer was still on the loose.
A one-time mayoral candidate in his hometown of Albion, Ill., Mendenhall briefly tried to represent himself in court against the murder charges.
Danny Davis, Mendenhall’s supervisor, told Land Line in 2007 that Mendenhall’s hauling routes matched up with at least two killings investigated by police. Not long before Mendenhall’s arrest, Davis said he was in the truck to examine a mechanical issue and noticed a “ratty” smell.
Davis said then Mendenhall was quiet and was “a good runner.”
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