Hammer at the center of Damm trial testimony - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hammer at the center of Damm trial testimony


GALENA, Ill. (KWWL) -- The trial for David Damm got off to a slow start Tuesday morning because of witness scheduling issues.

Jurors were seated shortly after 10:30 a.m. and then, after testimony from two defense witnesses, given an early lunch break about an hour later.

KWWL's coverage partner, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, has reporter Jeff Reinitz in the courtroom Friday covering the trial.

Damm is charged with murder, conspiracy and kidnapping in the Oct. 27, 2006, death of 13-year-old Donnisha Hill.

On Tuesday morning, Herman Wise Jr. III, who had lived at Burt's crack house on Sumner Street, told jurors Burt had phoned him to find a hammer the afternoon of Oct. 27, 2006.

He said he looked around the house before locating the tool and then took it to Burt, who was at a neighbor's house borrowing a car.

Wise said Burt also asked a female at the house to bring a kitchen knife. She carried it over wrapped in newspaper, he said.

"We thought he was going to get drugs," Wise said.

Burt earlier testified he was heading out to get Hill from Damm. He then drove her to Illinois where he killed her with the hammer and cut her neck with the knife.

When Burt returned home, he wanted another favor, Wise said.

"He kept asking me to get rid of this hammer," Wise said. "I said why should I throw the hammer in the river? He said you don't want to know."

Wise said he tossed the tool in a wooded area instead of the river. He later led police to place, and they found the hammer.

Craig Hoskins, 52, testified that he was at Burt's house the night of the slaying. There was a phone call where Burt said he was heading back and was in Evansdale, Hoskins said. He said Burt arrived after that, but it appeared that it took Burt longer to travel from Evansdale than one would expect.

He was unable to attach times to any of the events.

"I was using a lot of drugs," Hoskins said.

The defense told jurors Damm wanted Burt to help Hill run away and not to kill her. They suggest a struggle between Burt and Hill broke out when Burt was supposed to be giving her a ride to Chicago.

Burt has admitted to the slaying and testified for the state two weeks ago.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Damm could get the death penalty.

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