Copyright Tyler Morning Telegraph
HENDERSON – Two men convicted for the 1983 Kentucky Fried Chicken murders in Rusk County have filed new motions in the case to have DNA revisited.
Both men were convicted due to DNA found on a napkin and on the bottom of a receipt box found on a shelf under the front counter of the restaurant.
In Hartsfield's motion he states, “… It should be noted that there was no physical evidence presented to connect that box or the blood smeared on its bottom to the crimes of robbery, kidnapping and murder. I therefore challenge that DNA test result as false and unreliable. My defense counsel failed to challenge that test result at trial, so it remains to be retested by an independent testing laboratory. That blood cannot be mine, because I swear that I was never in that KFC facility, unless it was planted by a member of the prosecution team or police detectives involved.”
The five victims were abducted from the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Kilgore and taken to an oil lease in rural Rusk County where they were made to lay down before they were shot.
Mrs. Hughes had also been sexually assaulted.
The crime went unsolved for decades as the case saw twists and turns, including the arrest and indictment of a state representative's son before the man was finally acquitted and his record expunged of the murders.
In 2001, a meeting between Rusk County and Texas Attorney General officials ended with renewed interests in the case and some startling results.
New technology had been developed which took DNA testing to a higher level. As the DNA was extracted from evidence taken at the crime scene and tested, it pointed fingers to the two cousins from Tyler.
The two men were questioned before a grand jury in Rusk County about their possible involvement in the crimes and both denied ever being in the restaurant.
Those denials coupled with the DNA results resulted in the two men being indicted on five counts of capital murder.
The state pressed on and in a Bowie County courtroom in October 2007 a jury began hearing evidence in the case against Pinkerton.
State District Judge Clay Gossett presided over the trial as Texas Attorney General prosecutor Lisa Tanner and Rusk County District Attorney Michael Jimerson presented two weeks of testimony to the jurors, but Pinkerton's defense team of Jeff Haas and David Griffith were not allowed to begin their case as Pinkerton suddenly decided to enter a guilty plea to five counts of first-degree murder.
The following year, Hartsfield continued saying he was innocent and when he stood before a jury in Brazos County, he entered a not guilty plea.
Several weeks later, the jury found Hartsfield guilty on all counts.
Prosecutors say they have never learned the identity of the person who sexually assaulted Mrs. Hughes.
Prosecutors say while they remain sensitive in regards to DNA, they believe in this case the DNA is a “dead issue.”
The Tyler Paper will have a more detailed story Thursday with reaction from both sides to the new motions filed in the case.