Kyle Humphrey is one of Bakersfield’s most prominent criminal defense attorneys. He has represented defendants in some of Kern County’s highest profile cases, including law enforcement officers accused of crimes.
Currently, for example, he represents Leslie Jenae Chance, the former school principal accused of shooting her husband to death three years ago. That case has received media interest throughout California and as far away as England.
He represented Chris Hillis, the District Attorney’s Office investigator who killed assistant Kern County District Attorney Stephen M. Tauzer in 2002. Humphrey negotiated a plea bargain and Hillis pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and was paroled years ago.
The day after the Heisey killing, Bakersfield Police searched the home of Lloyd Wakelee, a counselor at the school where Kathleen Heisey was principal. Heisey’s son and her best friend told detectives she felt threatened by Wakelee after she wrote a very critical performance evaluation.
Wakelee’s wife, Debbie Wakelee, said Bakersfield police investigators searched their home a few days after Heisey’s body was found. Investigators were rude and disrespectful to the Wakelee’s property, she said.
That’s why they decided to hire Humphrey.
Humphrey immediately wrote a letter to the police department asserting Wakelee’s rights and reminding detectives not to attempt to speak with Wakelee without Humphrey present, and not to search his property without a court order.
Kevin Legg, the now-retired Bakersfield Police Detective who was the lead investigator in the Heisey case in 1998, said Wakelee was a prime suspect – but Humphrey’s involvement effectively stopped the investigation of him.
Humphrey also represented Lloyd Wakelee in a 1999 road rage incident after Legg revitalized the case and persuaded prosecutors to charge Wakelee with a bevy of crimes. Ultimately, charges were reduced and then expunged from Wakelee’s record.Ironically, Humphrey’s wife, Judge Colette Humphrey, signed the arrest warrant that allowed Legg to arrest Wakelee in 2000 for the road rage incident. Our interview with Debbie Wakelee was down at Humphrey’s office with him by her side.