MAGNOLIA, Miss. (AP) — A deputy sheriff responding to a domestic dispute was killed by a shot to the left side of his head, a forensic pathologist testified Friday in the death-penalty trial of a man charged with killing the deputy and seven other people in Mississippi.
The defendant, Willie Cory Godbolt, kept his head lowered as photos of the deceased Lincoln County deputy, William Durr, were shown on a screen in the courtroom during the seventh day of testimony, the Daily Leader reported.
Godbolt, 37, previously pleaded not guilty to four counts of capital murder, four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery. According to testimony earlier in the trial, law enforcement was called after Godbolt went to his in-laws’ home on May 27, 2017, and argued with his estranged wife about their children.
Durr, Barbara Mitchell, Toccara May and Brenda May were shot to death that night. Two more people — 18-year-old Jordan Blackwell and 11-year-old Austin Edwards — were killed at a second home in the early hours of May 28, 2017. Ferral Burage and Sheila Burage, a married couple, were shot to death at a third home a few hours later. Godbolt was arrested near a business as he walked from the Burages’ house, investigators said.
Jurors and about 75 other people in the courtroom Friday saw autopsy photos of Durr, Brenda May and Blackwell. Circuit Judge David Strong warned people about the graphic nature of the photos, and about 10 spectators left before they were shown.
J. Brent Davis with the state medical examiner’s office said Durr was shot three times — in his face, his back and the back of his head. Earlier in the week, Sheena May, Godbolt’s ex-wife, testified she saw Godbolt shoot Durr in the face.
Davis said small hemorrhagic marks on Durr’s face produced by the impact of unburned or partially burned gunpowder particles show the assailant was close to Durr when the gun was fired. The autopsy photo showed an exit wound on the back left of Durr’s neck.
Davis said all gunshot wounds are potentially fatal, but in his opinion, the face shot wouldn’t have killed the officer.
“With medical treatment, could he have survived this?” Assistant District Attorney Brendon Adams asked.
“I believe so, yes,” Davis said.
The shot to Durr’s back also could have been treated and may not have been fatal, Davis said.
However, the shot to the left side of his head, and the exit wound to the top of his head, killed the officer instantly, Davis said.
The jury also saw autopsy photos of Blackwell and May that showed multiple bullet entry and exit wounds to torso, arms and head.