By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – The family and attorney of convicted felon Kevin Rowe claim to have new evidence concerning the nine-year-old murder case, including information about altered 911 tapes and autoposy photographs, which they hope will prove Rowe is innocent.
Kevin Rowe is currently serving a life sentence for the 2005 murder of Tammy Hylton and the attempted murder of her husband, Robin Hylton, who were gunned down while riding their ATV in Pike County.
Kevin Rowe’s father, Kenneth Rowe, along with Louisville attorney Maureen Sullivan, has been researching the new evidence, which he says has haunted him daily since his son was convicted of murder.
Kenneth Rowe claims that he and his family had been denied access to certain types of evidence during the original trial, including the autopsy photographs and the 911 tapes from the day of the shooting.
The autopsy pictures reportedly show that Tammy Hylton had unexplained bruising and other injuries on the right side of her face, which did not reveal a gunshot wound. According to documents, Hylton also had a crooked nose, as if she had been beaten. Also according to documents, Hylton’s pants leg was wet, indicating that she had been in water despite the presence of no water in the general area where the shooting occurred.
The 911 tapes, which Kenneth Rowe reportedly asked for three times and was denied access to each time, were found two years after Kevin Rowe had been imprisoned. Kenneth Rowe claims these 911 tapes were entirely different from the ones that had been played in court.
The difference in the 911 tapes prompted Rowe to take a deeper look, so he contacted audio specialist Tom Owen.
Owen has appeared as a consultant on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC Nightline, and other broadcast outlets, with more than 75 publications, presentations, and recordings available from the Audio Engineering Society, The American College of Forensic Examiners and others that speak of his work. He is also chairman of the Audio Engineering Society’s standards group on forensic audio and chairman emeritus of The American Board of Recorded Evidence.
Robin Hylton testified that only he, his wife, and Kevin Rowe were present during the shooting. According to Owen, several voices are heard in the background besides the three mentioned. Owen prepared a transcript based on what he heard, which reveals both male and female voices aside from the 911 dispatcher and Robin Hylton.
Owen spoke with the Daily News regarding the prospect of a new trial for Kevin Rowe and was in favor of the possibility, saying, “I enhanced the 911 tapes, and wrote a transcript about what they said. I also conducted an authenticity exam as well, and found the tapes had been altered. Any time evidence has been edited, it is unreliable and shouldn’t be used in a hearing. My part was doing the tape, enhancing it, and confirming it was a bad tape. That tape wouldn’t have been admitted in a real court. I consider myself for the truth … based on what I know about this, the kid didn’t get a fair hearing.”
Owen, who says he remembers the case vividly, added that “lawyers in Kentucky don’t have the knowledge of tapes and how they can be edited. You can take out a few words and the tapes can have a completely different meaning than they really should. All of a sudden you’re a criminal.”
Several years ago, Owen said the 911 tapes that were presented at Rowe’s trial had been altered. He says he still holds that opinion to this day.
Rowe reportedly has been a well-behaved prisoner, and has become involved in a program to help train service dogs. This program is seen as a reward for honor prisoners. He also has been allowed to take carpentry classes.
Rowe may have the chance to revisit his past and fight for his freedom if a hearing is granted. If not, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars.