The following emails written by Christina Smallwood, the sister of Michael Kershner. They give additional facts about the crime as well as present her (and apparently her family's) claim that the shooting occurred inside the apartment and not outside as claimed by three witnesses.
To: Dan Rastatter at victimsofthestate.org
Thank you for your timely response to my email concerning my brother. I thought it may be helpful for my to send you a copy of the email that I sent to the Elkhart Truth regarding the situation & false claims. The only additional details that are not in the email to the Elkhart Truth are the fact that initially the gunmen did not have the gun on my brother but on his friend, Eddie Love, the gun was aimed at Eddies head so my brother hit the gunman in the arm which made the bullet hit the wall to the left of where Eddie was sitting. The gunman then turned the gun on my brother & shot him. The bullet was removed during surgery & there was no exit wound. I would also like to state that if the actual crime scene was in question because of lack of blood evidence then why didn't the crime scene investigators check the parking lot where the crime allegedly occurred since Stellana Neal's statement says she personally saw a huge puddle of blood. I personally believe that the errors of the crime scene investigators are keeping my brother from getting any justice for the horrible crime that was committed. I am sorry that I did not go into much detail in my first email to you that would explain what my concerns were. I hope, very much, that this copy will be of great use in re-writing your case summary.
Thank you again,
To Elkhart Truth (Newspaper):
I am writing in regard to the article published December 18, 2006 about Christopher Parish being released from prison for a crime he didn't commit & trying to reenter society. Michael Kershner is the shooting victim & he is also my little brother. My entire family is outraged with the fact that The Elkhart Truth has published such an article as well as a few other publications without contacting the true victims of this crime. My family was, for the very first time, contacted on July 28, 2008 by a law clerk from Aurora, IL that is handling a civil case against the City of Elkhart. He just showed up on my mothers doorstep and is the first person to notify any of us about the release of Christopher Parish & Keith Cooper and to inform us of any re-trials or appeals from the case.
My family re-located in 1999 to a better area to raise our families but the prosecutors always had our contact information. The last we heard of this case was at the sentencing hearing in 1998. We were totally shocked with all of this information including articles published claiming that Christopher Parish was an innocent man convicted of a crime that was never committed. These men were released from prison based on things we had no control over, such as, one witness completely changing his statement & 2 other people making totally false statements saying the crime was committed in a parking lot. I know for a fact that is fabricated. I was on the telephone with my mother when she had Michael answer the knock at the door. I personally heard my brother get shot over the phone & then the line went dead. I would gladly have someone pull the phone records to prove my statement, which was given to police & the prosecutor shortly after the crime.
I even sat in court, in labor, for 12 hours to testify to that fact. I was told at the end of the day that my testimony was not needed. Eddie Love, Stellana Neal, & Bryant Wheeler has since wrote statements saying that Michael Kershner was in the laundromat parking lot, across from Middlebury Apartments, selling drugs on a skateboard at the time he was shot. They stated that there were several witnesses in the parking lot at the time. I know for a fact that those statements are fabricated because on the night of October 29, 1996 at about 9:30 pm there was a terrible thunderstorm & it was pouring rain. The rain was so heavy that several areas around town were without power, which is why I had called my mother in the first place, to check on them to see if their power was out. My family will never forget the details of that night, although the "witnesses" that came forward later must have. There is nobody that can honestly say that during a downpour of rain that lots of people were gathered in a parking lot just "hanging out" or that anyone would be playing on a skateboard during that time.
There is also talk that no crime scene could be found by investigators in the apartment on the night of the shooting. That is also a lie. I personally witnessed the crime scene moments after the police arrived because I rushed there myself when the phone line went dead after the gunshot. I seen the bullet hole in the wall, although police tried to prevent it. I was then told by police that my brother was at the hospital but was probably dead already. After hearing that I rushed straight to Elkhart General where he was already in surgery & by the grace of God, survived. When my mother returned to the apartment the next day, although the crime scene investigators had already cleared the scene, she was the one to dig the bullet fragments out of the wall & the one to find the hat worn by the perpetrators. Uniformed officers picked up the evidence that following afternoon. My mother had to do the job of the investigators that they clearly didn't do themselves.
The only fact about the crime scene that is correct is the fact that there was not any blood on the scene and that is because when my brother was shot, the force of the bullet cauterized the entry wound until pressure was put on it during his transport to the fire station in my mothers car & that is where the majority of blood was found. My family is again being victimized by the false statements being given that have released these criminals and slanderous accusations that my family & the Elkhart Police Department fabricated a false crime. That is the true miscarriage of justice here, not the fact that Mr. Parish can not get a job.