GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - The second murder trial for convicted killer Danny Hembree was declared a mistrial Monday afternoon after the convicted killer brought up a letter that alleged a sexual relationship between him and the assistant district attorney.
The defense team for Hembree withdrew from the case after the allegations were made, Eyewitness News reporter Ken Lemon said. The Bar Association told defense attorneys to withdraw from the case. They, in turn, told the judge and he approved the withdrawal.
As a result, the prosecution objected, which caused a larger uproar.
Hembree objected to his attorneys and problems he was having with them.
“No matter what the state says, I got a conflict with these two guys,” Hembree said.
That led Shellie Nations, the victim’s sister, to lash out at Hembree. “I got a conflict with you, too. You killed my sister!”
“Did you not say you killed my sister you son of a b****?” she screamed at the convicted killer.
During his testimony, Hembree admitted to killing Nations’ sister, Randi Saldana, and burning her body, but said her death was an accident.
Deputies quickly moved to surround Nations and remove her from the courtroom.
After Nations was removed, Hembree begged the judge not to put her in jail.
The trial went awry when the district attorney questioned Hembree about a letter he wrote while on Death Row for the murder of Heather Catterton and Hembree countered the questioning with a different revelation.
“What I am wondering about is are you going to show the letter about the sexual relationship between me and (Assistant District Attorney) Stephanie (Hamlin) that the attorney general sent in here the other day?” Hembree asked.
He was talking about an anonymous letter claiming Hamlin was a jilted lover on a vendetta against Hembree. He said he later left Hamlin for Heather Catterton's sister.
Hamlin is married and said everything in the letter is a lie. Her boss, who was questioning Hembree at the time, called the allegations baseless.
"Why not let them all hear the whole thing? Laugh, but the truth is the truth," Hembree said.
The defense attorneys said the state Bar Association told them they must withdraw from the case because, if they stayed on, they would be considered part of a fraud carried out against the prosecution.
The district attorney argued with the judge to continue the trial. However, it appears the time spent on the trial will be lost and it will start over again at a later date.
Last fall, a jury decided Hembree killed Catterton and sentenced him to death. The current trial is not a capital case.