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Atchison hearing gives details into shooting

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

CHARLESTON - A cash bond of $500,000 and court date were assigned to Antoine Atchison, accused of first degree murder and armed criminal action for the May 9 shooting death of Chance Kitchen, during a preliminary hearing Monday before Judge T. Lynn Brown.

Atchison is scheduled to appear before David A. Dolan, circuit judge for the 33rd Judicial Court, at 1 p.m. July 13 for arraignment at the circuit court level.

Neal Frazier, assistant prosecuting attorney and special gun prosecutor for Mississippi County, asked that Atchison not be allowed to post bond. Frazier said that prior to the incident resulting in the charges before the court, there was already a pending warrant on Atchison for a first degree assault shooting and that Atchison "represents a serious threat to the community with this series of shootings."

The hearing began with Frazier presenting the death certificate of Chance Kitchen into evidence.

The prosecution then called its first witness, Bridget Atchison. During her testimony, Mrs. Atchison said Antoine Atchison is her son.

She testified that on May 9 she drove to the home of her daughter, Laquanda, with three passengers, Antoine Atchison, James Lamont Lane and Shalita Hines, "to get my daughter and grandson." Kitchen also lived at the same residence.

Mrs. Atchison said Kitchen answered the door, but she didn't see who shot him.

"Really, I don't know. I had my back turned," she said. "I was facing him (Kitchen) and he was facing me."

Mrs. Atchison said she was drinking, and responded to many statements and questions from the prosecutor with "I guess" or "I don't know."

Pressed to say what she remembered Kitchen saying after he was shot, Mrs. Atchison said: "I guess he said, 'What is this for, Antoine?'"

Frazier then presented her with a written statement from an interview recorded by detectives investigating the case "to refresh her recollection" about events at the door that night.

While reviewing the statement, Mrs. Atchison said she recalled "some of it" but did not recall saying some of it. She did recall calling the police following the shooting. "Yes, I did - on my cell phone," she answered.

During questioning by Amy Skrien, the public defender for Atchison, Mrs. Atchison said she did not recall Antoine Atchison coming to assist Kitchen after he had been shot, but did remember the other two passengers in her car helping.

While she was able to recall that it was night, "I don't know what time it was." Mrs. Atchison said she thought all the passengers stayed in the car while she knocked at the door.

She again testified that she was facing Kitchen when the shooting occurred and that she was under the influence of alcohol and not sure exactly what Kitchen said.

"Like I said, I had been drinking," Mrs. Atchison said. "That's what it sounded like he said. ... That's what it sounded like to me."

She said she had drank "a four-pack of Jack Daniels, some vodka, some beer" before going to her daughter and Kitchen's home.

Mrs. Atchison said she recalled no neighbors or other bystanders around during the incident.

Responding to questions by the public defender, Mrs. Atchison said her son and the victim knew each other and were on good terms.

"We had played cards at my house earlier that night," she said. "So, yea, they got along."

Ask by Skrien if she told police the truth for her statement, Mrs. Atchison answered: "I don't know if I did," adding that she was "scared, nervous" and that those interviewing her told her they didn't believe she was telling them the truth.

"They got me from work," she said, adding that she was at the police station from 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. "I probably said that so I could go home to my kids."

The second witness to take the stand was Lane, one of Mrs. Atchison's three passengers that night.

Answering questions from the prosecutor in a voice so low he was asked to speak up by the judge, Lane confirmed that Mrs. Atchison was drinking on May 9. Asked what happened that night, he replied: "Well, Chance got killed." When asked if he saw what happened, Lane at this time said: "Not really - I was kind of intoxicated."

He said he was not questioned by police who responded to the scene, but was interviewed later in Sikeston by detectives.

"I heard some gunshots," Lane said of Kitchen's death May 9. "I remember watching him die ... taking his last breath." He recalled applying pressure to Kitchen's wounds.

Lane identified Antoine as the shooter.

Questioned by the defense, Lane said he was certain Antoine Atchison shot Kitchen.

Skrien reminded Lane of his statement moments before in which he said he didn't see Antoine Atchison shoot Kitchen. "That was my statement and I was intoxicated but I did see what happened," he said.

Asked about the purpose for going to Kitchen's residence that night, Lane said he overheard "something to the effect of some guys were going to shoot up the house" and that they were going to get Mrs. Atchison's daughter and granddaughter out of the house.

Lane said he saw Antoine Atchison get out of the car and called out "Antoine!" before hearing a gun cock and five shots.

He said Antoine Atchison and Mrs. Atchison were in front of him at the door and that he didn't see anybody else around.

Hines testified that she was Antoine's girlfriend and a certified nurses' aide. She confirmed she tended Kitchen's wounds, and before doing so saw Lane and the Atchison get out but didn't see where the shots came from.