Posted by DeAnn Smith, Digital Content Manager - email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
A man sitting in a Kansas federal prison allegedly says he brutally raped and then choked Renee Pernice to death.
And attorneys for her husband, Shon, argue this jailhouse confession could create reasonable doubt in his upcoming first-degree murder trial.
A Clay County judge will consider next week whether to allow jurors to hear this startling claim.
Renee Pernice disappeared in January 2009. Authorities and her family believe her husband, an Independence firefighter, murdered her. Her body has never been found.
A man incarcerated at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary says his 31-year-old cell mate confessed to killing Renee Pernice. The man's public defender is refusing to let the man discuss his alleged confession, citing his Fifth Amendment right, according to court documents.
In a motion filed by Shon Pernice's attorneys, the alleged confessor lived in a trailer park about two miles from the Pernice home. He was arrested on Jan. 8, 2009, for a probation violation.
That man allegedly told his cell mate "that he had abducted Ms. Pernice and forced her to have sex with him; she resisted and screamed, so he choked and accidentally killed her," according to the motion from Shon Pernice's attorneys.
The alleged confessor further claimed "the police would not find her body because he cut it up and disposed of it where he walked his dog," according to the motion.
The cell mate said the man claimed he hopes Shon Pernice is convicted for Pernice's death. The man has pleaded guilty to threatening to kidnap and injure two girls. Federal prosecutors say he called hospitals and clinics in seven states saying he had abducted children that he would kill if the person who answered the call did not listen to him abuse the children. The last threatening call was allegedly made one day before Renee Pernice was last seen.
KCTV5 initially reported in this story that Renee Pernice had been
declared legally dead, but an attorney for Shon Pernice says that is not
Rick Pretz, Renee Pernice's father, said he trusts the justice system to handle the alleged confession by the federal prisoner.
"I have a lot of confidence in the police, and they'll sort it out as to whether there's any merit there," Pretz said.
He believes the alleged confession is worth checking, but remains convinced that his son-in-law killed his daughter.
"Just the way things unfolded... Pulling back from the family, not talking to the police, only two people in the home to begin with," Pretz said. "One's gone and one's not talking led us to feel that Shon was behind this."
Clay County Prosecutor Dan White, who filed the murder charge against Shon Pernice, said he is aware of the alleged confession but it changes nothing about his case against Renee Pernice's husband.
Defense attorneys, who declined comment to KCTV5, signaled in the court filing that they will argue the alleged confession has validity because the man said he followed Renee Pernice in a blue Chevy Cavalier.
Renee Pernice was not driving the Chevy at the time of her disappearance, but she did own one, Pretz said.
Defense attorneys also argue that the alleged confessor had a "sexual perverse motivation to force women to have sex" and has a prior history of sexual assaults.
Shon Pernice's attorneys will make their case to a Clay County judge at 10 a.m. Monday.
Pretz said Renee Pernice's family is hopeful that the judge will rule for the prosecution but aren't "totally confident of the outcome." He said the family is focused on raising Renee and Shon Pernice's young sons.
"Probably our biggest hurdle or the judicial system's biggest hurdle is that we have not found Renee," he said. "So this is not a slam dunk case and we're aware of that and we're prepared to live life with Shon on the streets again if that's what happens."
Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:00 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:00:37 GMT
Tragedy has repeatedly touched the life of the mother of a 5-year-old girl shot to death in Leavenworth Friday night.More >
Tragedy has repeatedly touched the life of the mother of a 5-year-old girl shot to death in Leavenworth Friday night. And some wonder if more could have been done to protect the children of Christina Harris from violence.More >
Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:38 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:38:25 GMT
Dash cameras hold a lot of answers in determining who fired the shot that killed a girl during a shootout between police and a man suspected of abducting her, law enforcement close to the case said.More >
Dash cameras hold a lot of answers surrounding the finals moments in determining who fired the shot that killed a 5-year-old girl during a shootout between police and a man suspected of abducting her, law enforcement close to the case said.More >