Former boss recalls Mendenhall’s disdain for ‘lot lizards’

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 9:36pm

The state rested its case against Bruce Mendenhall on Thursday after a second full day of witness testimony, which began Tuesday.

Jurors heard testimony from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensic experts regarding bullet casings and blood found inside the cab of Mendenhall’s tractor-trailer, linking it to the location where Sara Nicole Hulbert was shot and killed at a north Nashville truck stop in June 2007.

Closing arguments are expected Friday morning with the case being handed over to the jury following that.

A serology specialist from the TBI testified that blood spots found in various places in the cab of the truck, particularly in the sleeper area, matched DNA samples of Hulbert as did blood samples found on Mendenhall’s .22-caliber rifle.

Though sperm samples were found on the victim, none were linked to Mendenhall or other men he claimed set him up for the crime.

Thursday morning, jurors listened to a lengthy audio recording made by another prisoner who agreed to wear a wire. In that recording, Mendenhall tried to cut a deal to kill acquaintances from Illinois and Kentucky, whom he said were behind the murder.

At one point, Mendenhall’s former boss, Danny Davis, told the jury about a time when the accused murderer said he didn’t mess around with “lot lizards” — “I just kill them.”

The only defense witness called to the stand was a TBI tire track specialist who testified that tracks found near where Hulbert’s body was found didn’t match those of Mendenhall’s truck.

The state made the case that tracks, which were said to be smaller than Mendenhall’s tracks, could have been made from rescue vehicles call to the scene, not necessarily another suspect vehicle.

Mendenhall refused to take the stand in his own defense.

Mendenhall was arrested in Nashville in July 2007 after Metro detectives spotted his truck, which matched the suspect’s truck, return to the truck stop where Hulbert was murdered.