Female acquaintances of Kendra Owen testify at Watertown murder trial

March 4, 2022
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–Two women who were acquaintances of Kendra Owen, and periodically lived with her, took the witness stand Monday in the Jeremiah Peacemaker murder trial.

Peacemaker is charged with First Degree Murder in the August 2020 death of 28 year-old Kendra Owen, whose decapitated body was found in her apartment in the 300-block of North Broadway in Watertown.

Brianna Lawrence testified that she befriended Owen in 2015, and that Owen would let her stay with her. Lawrence said she did that for a few weeks at a time in 2018 and 2019.

Lawrence said she and Owen would go to the library together, take walks and sometimes go to bars.

In April 2023, Lawrence was interviewed by Department of Criminal Investigation Supervisor Darin Sinner about Owen’s murder, because Lawrence’s DNA was found in Owen’s apartment. She testified that she was also interviewed by Watertown police on three different occasions.

Lawrence testified that she was approximately seven months pregnant at the time of Owen’s murder, and under cross examination, denied having any knowledge of Owen’s killer.

Also taking the witness stand was Desiree Rodriguez, who said she too would stay with Owen for a few weeks at a time.

Rodriguez testified that she stayed at Owen’s apartment for about two weeks in the summer of 2020, sleeping in Owen’s bed while Owen sometimes slept on the porch.

Rodriguez testified that she would occasionally drink with Owen, sometimes to the point of blacking out, but under cross examination, testified that she did not kill Owen, and had no knowledge of who did.

Both women testified they were never given their own keys to Owen’s apartment.

Last week, Dr. Kenneth Snell, who performed the autopsy on Owen, testified she suffered 16 cuts and stab wounds to the face, neck and base of the skull before being decapitated.

He testified that Owen had been dead approximately one week before her body was discovered on the evening of September 2, 2020.

Peacemaker told Watertown police during a late night interrogation on September 3, 2020 that he walked Owen home from Doc’s Bar, was at her apartment for approximately 20 minutes, and then went home.

More defense testimony will continue Tuesday.

Closing arguments are expected later Tuesday, then the case will go to the jury.