A man convicted in the Davenport murder of a well-known Quad-City bartender during a robbery in 1983 will get one more opportunity to have his latest petition for post-conviction relief heard after the Iowa Court of Appeals kicked it back to Scott County District Court.
B. C. “Basil” Pendleton, 57, of Waterloo, and Daryl Louis Hollins, 58, of Davenport, each were convicted in separate trials for the murder of 56-year-old Carol Stinger during a robbery of the St. Louis House, a Davenport tavern.
Pendleton has filed for post-conviction relief at least three times. The first two times occurred in 1989 and 2002. Both of those petitions were denied and the decisions were upheld on appeal.
His latest petition for post-conviction relief was filed in September 2013. In that petition, Pendleton claimed he had an affidavit from a witness at his trial who claimed he was recanting his trial testimony because it was all a fabrication. Pendleton also claimed he had a second piece of evidence for his case, an unsigned affidavit in which one man recanted his 2003 testimony to police, although it was never offered at trial. In view of this alleged new evidence Pendleton wanted his conviction for murder overturned.
After a hearing on Oct. 23, 2014, Scott County District Judge Mary Howes summarily dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief at the State’s request saying that the second piece of evidence was immaterial since the man never testified at trial. She also said that while the first piece of evidence is material to the case, it is unlikely that it would overturn the jury’s guilty verdict as there were other stronger witnesses in the case.
But according to the Iowa Court of Appeals, it does not appear that Pendleton got the chance to argue against the summary judgement. Also, the record of the hearing before the Court of Appeals was incomplete.
So even though the Court of Appeals said in its ruling that Howes could rule to dismiss the petition once again, it still goes back to District Court for another hearing, which has been set for Jan. 19, 2018.
The robbery and murder
At 12:45 a.m. August 18, 1983, Pendleton and Hollins, both then 24, walked into the St. Louis House, a tavern located at 402 W. 2nd St., Davenport.
Hollins, armed with a gun the two men had purchased that night at another tavern, planned to rob the St. Louis House, according to testimony from the case.
When the two walked in, they found Stinger, who was alone behind the bar and who had worked at the tavern for six months.
According to court testimony given by Tawana Harris, who at the time lived with Pendleton, Pendleton told her he was taking cash from the registers when he heard a shot and looked to find Hollins standing over Stinger’s body.
Frank Lingard, the owner of the tavern, was walking in an adjoining door and saw the two men running north on Ripley Street.
He found Stinger behind the bar, but didn’t know she’d been shot until, while calling police, he noticed a pool of blood forming on her clothes. Stinger, who had been a popular bartender in the Quad-Cities for 35 years, had been shot once in the chest. She was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Mercy Hospital.
According to testimony in Pendleton’s trial, Stinger was shot because she saw their faces during the robbery.
The men ran away with about $400 and two guns they found behind the counter.
Pendleton and Hollins were indicted on murder and robbery charges Jan. 31, 1984. Pendleton already was in the Scott County Jail at the time of the indictment and had testified during grand jury proceedings.
Hollins was captured in San Francisco and returned for trial.
Pendleton had a chance to serve a 25-year-prison sentence in the case as part of a plea agreement to plead guilty to first-degree robbery and testify against Hollins. Pendleton initially agreed, telling Scott County District Court Judge Margaret Briles that he was not armed during the robbery. He said as they left the bar he heard a shot and found out later that Hollins had shot Stinger.
But the next day, Pendleton changed his mind, according to court documents, as he was afraid he would be killed by a prison gang if he testified against Hollins, who allegedly was a member of the Almighty Unknown Vice Lords. “That put fear into my heart,” Pendleton told Judge Briles.
The St. Louis House had been around for 137 years at the time Stinger was killed. In its early years, it was a favorite stopping place for farmers who hauled produce in from the country in horse-drawn wagons and usually stayed in Davenport overnight before making the long, slow trip home.
Bill Davis who was the county attorney at the time the murder occurred, said that since the transcript of the hearing was not made part of the record of appeal, the court was lacking what Howes used in making her decision.
"I'm sure she did it right," Davis said of Howes.
The St. Louis House was torn down not long after the murder.
Both men were convicted and sentenced to a prison term of life without the possibility of parole.
Hollins currently is serving his time in the Clarinda Correctional Facility, according to Iowa Department of Corrections online records.
Pendleton is housed in the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.