Kenneth Lemmons is on medical leave from his job as a truck driver for Barnabas Trucking. At the time of Dr. Smith's death, he was suing her, her partners, her practice, and the hospital for malpractice in the death of his wife, Danielle
Detectives Armstrong and Murphy interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. Mr. Lemmons' attorney Richard Hayes attended via speakerphone.
Friday, January 19, 2018 — 3:30 a.m.
- Detective T. Armstrong
- Detective S. Murphy
- Kenneth Lemmons
- Richard Hayes
Detective Murphy: Mr. Lemmons, I'm Detective Murphy. This is Detective Armstrong.
Kenneth Lemmons: Why am I here?
Detective Murphy: First, what is your name and address?
Kenneth Lemmons: My name is Kenneth Lemmons, and I live at 269 McElroy Drive, here in Oxford. Now, why am I here?
Detective Murphy: Mr. Hayes, are you with us?
Richard Hayes: I am. Thank you for accommodating me like this. I have to be in court shortly, but since you'll likely be discussing my client's lawsuit, it's important that I'm privy to the conversation.
Detective Murphy: Of course. State your name and address, please.
Richard Hayes: My name is Richard Hayes, and I live at 314 South 5th Street.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Lemmons, where are you employed?
Kenneth Lemmons: I used to be a truck driver, but I can't work now.
Detective Armstrong: Where do you work?
Kenneth Lemmons: I worked for Barnabas Trucking.
Detective Armstrong: What is the reason you can't work?
Kenneth Lemmons: I hurt my back last year, and I am in constant pain, and I can't do much of anything anymore because my back won't let me. The pain is excruciating.
Detective Armstrong: So what do you do to support yourself?
Kenneth Lemmons: I told you I can't work, so my savings are almost gone. I'm trying to get on disability, but it's taking way too long.
Detective Murphy: And why is it taking so long?
Kenneth Lemmons: You know how these things are sometimes. There's a lot of red tape, and I wish they'd hurry up because I'm in bad financial shape right now.
Detective Armstrong: Well, they just want to make sure you're not malingering before they start tossing you that free money.
Kenneth Lemmons: What's that supposed to mean?
Detective Armstrong: It's just that you don't look that hurt to me.
Kenneth Lemmons: Oh really? You know, you sound just like them. How am I supposed to look exactly? What will convince you? Please tell me.
Richard Hayes: Uh, guys? Maybe this isn't the best use of our time? The clock is ticking.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Lemmons, we'd like to ask you a few questions about your relationship with Dr. Veronica Smith.
Kenneth Lemmons: I thought that was it. The only relationship I had with that woman is through my late wife, Danielle.
Detective Armstrong: What does that mean?
Kenneth Lemmons: Dr. Smith was my wife's doctor. She performed a colonoscopy on my wife.
Detective Armstrong: Is that all?
Kenneth Lemmons: You know all about it. Because of Dr. Smith, my wife died. Danielle would be alive today if not for the botch-up job that Dr. Smith did.
Detective Armstrong: Now why do you think that?
Kenneth Lemmons: That so-called doctor made a big mistake and perforated my wife's bowel during a simple colonoscopy. Danielle became septic and died the very next day. Would you call Veronica Smith a doctor if that happened to your wife?
Detective Armstrong: So you blame Dr. Smith for your wife's death?
Kenneth Lemmons: Of course I do. Wouldn't you? I was trying to put her out of business when she took the coward's way out. The only consolation I have now is that she's dead and won't hurt another one of her patients.
Detective Murphy: Sounds like you hated her enough to want to kill her.
Kenneth Lemmons: Oh my God, no! I'm not that kind of a person. Yes, I hated her, but getting back at her didn't include murder. I was suing her for malpractice: her, her partners and the hospital. No one should have to go through things like that, but that hospital has quacks for doctors. It ought to be closed down at the very least.
Detective Armstrong: So you want to shut down the only hospital in town?
Kenneth Lemmons: Obviously they're negligent at the very least. They shouldn't be allowed to inflict their so-called medicine on innocent people.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Mr. Lemmons. Did you have any contact with Dr. Smith since you filed the lawsuit?
Kenneth Lemmons: No. I have no use for that woman, so why would I speak to her?
Detective Armstrong: No messages by mail?
Kenneth Lemmons: No.
Detective Murphy: No trying to contact her by phone?
Kenneth Lemmons: No. Why would I call her?
Richard Hayes: Detectives, my client had no direct communication with Dr. Smith. All communications were between the attorneys and myself.
Kenneth Lemmons: All I wanted was to stop people from going to her for anything. I thought the malpractice suit would take care of that. I wanted it to cost her emotionally too. I wanted whatever it took to make her suffer. She deserved to suffer for killing Danielle.
Richard Hayes: Ken.
Detective Armstrong: Mr. Lemmons, have you ever filed a malpractice suit against anyone else?
Kenneth Lemmons: No, just this one against Dr. Smith, her partners, the Yoknapatawpha Gastroenterology Center, and Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Detective Armstrong: Do you know her partners' names?
Kenneth Lemmons: Dr. Hilton Burns and Dr. James Mendoza.
Detective Armstrong: Now why did you sue them and the hospital?
Kenneth Lemmons: It is Smith's practice. I wanted it shut down. And the partners should have known that Dr. Smith wasn't a good physician.
Detective Murphy: Why the hospital?
Kenneth Lemmons: Because that's where the colonoscopy was performed. It was supposed to be a simple outpatient procedure.
Richard Hayes: If I may, it's our position that the hospital has a responsibility to vet the physicians they grant privileges to. Similarly, the YGC as a business entity and the partners thereto are responsible for the actions of their employees, including but not limited to the partners.
Detective Armstrong: Testing out your opening theory there, huh, Rich?
Richard Hayes: Never hurts to run it by a test audience.
Detective Murphy: Moving along. Mr. Lemmons, are you acquainted with anyone else at the hospital?
Kenneth Lemmons: If you mean personally, then no. I have talked with Dwight Kramer though.
Detective Murphy: And who is Dwight Kramer?
Kenneth Lemmons: One of the hospital's assistant administrators.
Detective Murphy: What did you talk to him about?
Kenneth Lemmons: He offered his condolences for my wife's death, and then he tried to tell me that sometimes things happen and no one is responsible. No way was I going to accept that. I told him that no doctor who had training would ever let something like that happen.
Detective Armstrong: Is that all you spoke about?
Kenneth Lemmons: No. He wanted me to drop the hospital from the suit. I knew that's what he really wanted.
Richard Hayes: And of course, that's not an option at this point.
Detective Murphy: Is that all that you discussed with him, Mr. Lemmons?
Kenneth Lemmons: Pretty much. But he did act like he didn't even believe what he was saying. It was obvious he didn't think much of Dr. Smith either.
Detective Armstrong: What did he say about her?
Kenneth Lemmons: Nothing. He rolled his eyes, and his manner changed when he mentioned her. You know what I mean? It was like he got a bad taste in his mouth when she was mentioned.
Detective Armstrong: Are you sure you never tried to contact Dr. Smith?
Kenneth Lemmons: I don't have to think. I didn't speak with her. No phone. No mail. No nothing.
Detective Murphy: Do you know anyone who would have wanted Dr. Smith dead?
Kenneth Lemmons: Now that's a funny question. I would think most anyone who she worked with and probably a lot of her patients.
Detective Murphy: Why do you think that?
Kenneth Lemmons: Because not only was she a bad doctor, but she had an overbearing attitude.
Detective Murphy: What you mean by that?
Kenneth Lemmons: You must not have known her. She talked down to people like she felt superior. She was very blunt, and when you said something to her, she would dismiss it as if it were an ignorant remark like she was just sweeping you away from her. You know the type.
Detective Murphy: Mr. Lemmons, have you ever been to her house?
Kenneth Lemmons: No. She didn't mix with people like me. She considered me lower class and beneath her.
Detective Murphy: Well, it sounds like you hated her enough you could have easily murdered her.
Kenneth Lemmons: No, I told you. I'm not the kind of person who would stoop to that. Yes, I hated her, but I wanted her to suffer for what she did financially, emotionally and publicly. Now that won't happen.
Detective Armstrong: Where were you on the evening, Mr. Lemmons?
Kenneth Lemmons: I went to the movies.
Detective Armstrong: Which theater did you go to for the movie?
Kenneth Lemmons: The Malco Theater here in Oxford.
Detective Armstrong: Anyone see you?
Kenneth Lemmons: Sure. There were a lot of people there. I'm sure someone saw me.
Detective Murphy: Anyone you can name?
Kenneth Lemmons: No, I wasn't paying any attention to who was there. I just know there were quite a few there.
Detective Murphy: What time did you go?
Kenneth Lemmons: The movie was supposed to start at 7:10, but you know how these things are. There are like 500 previews you have to sit through before the movie starts. Listen, my back is hurting me bad. I need to go home.
Detective Murphy: Okay, Mr. Lemmons, that'll be enough for now, but I'm sure we'll want to talk with you again later.
Kenneth Lemmons: Why would you want to talk to me again? Are you just looking for someone to blame because someone as important as her couldn't have possibly killed herself? Maybe I won't be so amenable if there's a next time.
Interview ended – 9:47 a.m.