Trial underway about shooting in rural Eastman

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Lee Kennedy as he appeared around the time of his arrest.

Lee Kennedy as he appeared in court recently.

By Ted Pennekamp


A trial is being held in the Crawford County Courthouse regarding the shooting of a 47-year-old Monticello man near Martin Lane in the town of Eastman on Oct. 25, 2019. The trial began on Nov. 11 and is expected to run through Nov. 18, when closing arguments are expected. 

A 49-year-old Greenfield, Ind. man, Lee Kennedy, has been charged with one count of first degree reckless injury by use of a dangerous weapon, one count of first degree recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, and one count of endangering safety by reckless use of a firearm. 

Kennedy faces up to a total of 57.5 years in prison if convicted of all three counts and the “use of a dangerous weapon” modifiers are applied. He also faces up to $150,000 in fines.

According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 25, 2019, at about 1:30 a.m., the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call from Jennifer Glass, 40, of Soldiers Grove, who said that a man she was with, Jason Melvin, had been shot in the head. The incident occurred near Martin Lane in the town of Eastman, the complaint said.

When deputies arrived, they saw a truck in the driveway of a cabin. The truck was running and had its lights on. As a deputy approached, the truck began to drive away from the cabin and toward Martin Lane. The truck drove down the driveway, crossed Martin Lane, and continued into a field, where it stopped, the complaint said.

As deputies got near the truck, Glass exited the passenger side of the truck and waved her arms. When Glass got to a squad car, she told a deputy, “He is going to die.” She also said, “They are up there,” as she pointed to an area occupied by a cabin and a recreational vehicle. Glass then said, “He’s going to die, get somebody!”

Glass’ left side was covered in blood on her shirt, face and pants, according to the complaint. 

Glass told deputies that there was a man staying in the RV and that it was his birthday. She also said there were other people in the cabin next to the RV.

Other officers continued to arrive and were attending to Melvin, who was in the truck and bleeding from the back of his head from an apparent gunshot wound, the complaint said. Melvin was removed from the truck by three officers and taken by EMS to Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien. He was then taken by Med Flight to UW Hospital in Madison.

Glass said she and Melvin had met Lee Kennedy at the Main Street Bar in Eastman earlier that evening, Oct. 24, according to the complaint. Glass stated Kennedy had said he was staying at a place on Martin Lane that weekend and he wanted to go back there and continue to celebrate his birthday. Glass said Kennedy was intoxicated, so she and Melvin accompanied Kennedy back to his RV. Glass said Melvin and Kennedy rode together in Melvin’s truck, while Glass drove Kennedy’s vehicle, according to the complaint. 

Glass said she and Melvin went inside the RV with Kennedy and stayed about 30 minutes. Glass said there was nobody else in the RV, and she did not see or hear anyone in or near the cabin.

Glass told officers that upon leaving the RV, she and Melvin got into Melvin’s truck, with Melvin in the driver’s seat. She said Melvin got the truck turned around and began to head down the driveway toward Martin Lane.

Glass told officers she then heard a gunshot and the back window of the truck shatter. Glass said Melvin’s head immediately went down, and he had no further movement, according to the complaint.

Glass said that from the passenger seat, she drove the truck out of the driveway, across Martin Lane, and into a field, the complaint stated.

A deputy saw an handgun laying on the front porch of the deck of the cabin. On the ground, within about 10 feet of the handgun were three expended ammunition casings. The handgun contained live rounds in the magazine and chamber, the complaint said. The gun was cocked and ready to fire. The gun was a .45 caliber.

Kennedy was found in the RV, along with three additional boxes of ammunition.

It was determined that two people were in the cabin for the weekend, which is next to the RV. One of the cabin’s occupants, Dale Wittleiff, told officers that at approximately 1:25 a.m., he heard three gunshots coming from outside the cabin, but very close, according to the complaint. Wittleiff said there was one shot, followed by a slight pause, followed by two quick shots in succession,” according to the criminal complaint.

Numerous videos and photos have been presented as evidence during the trial, including a video of Kennedy’s arrest, and various maps and photos of the cabin, a trailer and other vehicles at the scene. A handgun was also entered as evidence and shown to the jury while an explanation was given as to how the handgun worked.

Melvin has been sitting in a wheelchair at the right front of the audience section of the courtroom where he has been watching the trial.

In the arrest video shown during the trial on Nov. 12, Kennedy appears relatively calm and asks, “What’s going on?” as he is being arrested. He tells the arresting officers that he doesn’t know what this is all about. 

Kennedy was originally charged on Nov. 4, 2019 with attempted first degree intentional homicide and first degree recklessly endangering safety. The charges were amended on Sept. 10, 2021.

Jason Melvin, now 49, Susan Melvin, Ben Melvin and Lucy Melvin have filed a lawsuit against Lee Kennedy, Richard Larsen, Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Company, IMT Insurance Company, State Farm Fire and Casualty Company and subrogated defendant Dean Health Plan.

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