BARTON COUNTY, Kan. - A murder trial is set to begin at the Barton County courthouse in Kansas in less than a week, but the focus has shifted from the crime to the tattoo on the accused killer.
People in Great Bend had strong reactions to Jeffrey Chapman's tattoo of the word "murder" in big block letters, spelled backwards, across his neck.
Prosecutors say Chapman killed a man in November 2011. His trial is set to begin April 28.
In court documents, Chapman's attorney says the tattoo needs to be removed before the trial or covered up with more permanent ink. But Kansas law prohibits any tattooing outside of a licensed tattoo parlor and Chapman is stuck in this jail.
Charlie O'Hara is a defense attorney in Wichita. He doesn't represent Chapman, but KWCH-TV talked to him about what a tattoo like this could mean for the defense.
"Whenever you try a jury trial the appearance of the defendant makes a lot difference," said O'Hara.
He says a tattoo doesn't have to say "murder" for it to cause a problem and some of the people in Great Bend seem to agree.
"Number one I don't like tattoos, and this isn't a nice tattoo. So yeah, I wouldn't have nice things to think about it," said one resident.
And that's exactly what the defense wants to avoid as Chapman goes to trial.