10/30/08 — Testimony begins in murder of Jose Enriquez

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Testimony begins in murder of Jose Enriquez

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 30, 2008 1:46 PM


Mary Kim Little, who is accused of killing Jose Enriquez III by stabbing him in the throat with a butcher knife, listens as a witness testifies in Wayne County Superior Court on Wednesday. She faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted.

Carle Lee, the mother of a stabbing victim who survived a bloody November 2006 brawl that left one dead, sat in a Wayne County courthouse witness stand Thursday.

She testified about a phone call from defendant Mary Kim Little of Pikeville, who was 27 at the time of her alleged crime, the second-degree murder of Jose Enriquez III, 45.

"She (Ms. Little) told me where the knife was at, where the weapon was at," Ms. Lee said. "She told me that she had killed him, and I asked her why, and she told me that it was because they had been fighting."

Soon after, Ms. Lee said, she was talking to Sheriff's Office officials about what Ms. Little told her had happened at the Enriquez family's Tindale Place home.

"She (Ms. Little) said it was a butcher knife. A kitchen butcher knife. She said she stabbed him (Enriquez) in the throat, and then she took it and threw it in the woods."

Ms. Lee was familiar with Ms. Little because she was dating her son, Leland Daniel Underhill, at the time, according to testimony.

Underhill had been stabbed as well, but survived the fight, which law enforcement described at the time as a "free-for-all."

Appointed defense attorney Robert Smith questioned Ms. Lee about her state of mind at the time since she could hear her son yelling in the background, pleading with Billy Capps, one of the other people present and involved in the fight, who also was apparently struck in the head during the incident.

"Daniel was saying, 'Stop, Billy, stop.' I asked her (Ms. Little) if that was Billy Capps, and she said yes."

The defense attorney probed further.

"Can you explain how she (Ms. Little) sounded to you?" the defense attorney asked.

"She was hysterical. Crying. Screaming," Ms. Lee responded.

"When you answered the telephone, you heard your son in the background. Would it be fair to say that you had a lot of things going on through your mind?" Smith asked.

"Yeah, it scared me, because I could hear Daniel in the background," Ms. Lee testified. "She (Ms. Little) was telling me that Daniel loved me. Said he was dying."

In a conversation later with police, Ms. Lee said she became frustrated because emergency officials would not tell her the condition of Underhill, her son.

"Rescue had been sent out. They wouldn't tell me anything," Ms. Lee testified.

An unnamed Sheriff's Office deputy talked with Ms. Lee shortly after the phone call with Ms. Little, the mother testified.

"I don't remember his name, but all he would say is go to the hospital," Ms. Lee testified.

Later, Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler was called to the stand, who described the scene he and other Sheriff's Office officials found at the Tindale Place home early on Nov. 4, 2006.

"I was originally paged by dispatch about 1:09 in the morning," Effler said, describing a scene with four adults "sitting back at a table, drinking (alcohol) and smoking marijuana."

Ms. Little alleges that before the fight ensued, Capps tried to assault her.

"She said that when she got to the bedroom, Billy (Capps) grabbed her," Effler said, reading from a statement he originally collected from Ms. Lee. "Billy snatched her belt off, and she started calling for Daniel."

Testimony in the trial was expected to continue today.

Ms. Lee faces one count of second-degree murder, a Class B2 felony punishable by a minimum 91/2 years to a maximum 241/2 years in prison.