Opening statements, first witness testimony in trial for Chester councilman’s accused killer
Annie Louise Williams’ last words to her husband before he was shot and killed were short and hurried.
She and her daughter and grand-daughter had left her daughter’s home on Featherstone Road to go shopping the night of Nov. 4, 2014, and noticed a suspicious truck parked on the property.
She and Odell Williams had been separated since the early 1990s, Annie Williams testified Tuesday in the murder trial of the man charged in connection with her husband’s death. But they kept in touch, she said, and Williams, a Chester City Council member and retired police officer, told his wife to call him if she ever saw anything suspicious or needed help.
“He cut my grass,” she said. “He took care of us.”
That night, they saw the suspicious pickup parked near the slain councilman’s shop and knew there had been crimes in the neighborhood recently, Annie Williams testified, so she and her grand-daughter called Williams, who pulled onto Featherstone Road just as the Dodge Ram was pulling away.
“I told him that was the truck,” Annie Williams said. “We just told him, and he said ‘OK.’ ”
Williams, 69, then went after the truck.
Annie Williams was among the first to testify in the murder trial of Christopher Moore, 19, who is accused of fatally shooting Williams with a rifle.
Kyle Cummings, a Chester County sheriff’s deputy at the time of the shooting, was the first officer to arrive after Williams’ car crashed into a brick home more than a mile away on Roundtree Circle. He testified Williams had a visible gunshot wound to his face but was conscious when he found him.
“He kept trying to get out of the vehicle,” Cummings said, adding that he didn’t want to try to restrain Williams and exacerbate his injuries. “It sounded like he was trying to talk but could not.”
The Dodge Ram pickup the suspects allegedly used was later found abandoned on Roundtree Circle. The truck’s owner, Jason Binnall, testified that he had loaned the truck to Quinton McClinton, one of Moore’s co-defendants.
Jurors also heard from several neighbors who live in the areas through which Williams pursued the Dodge Ram before he was shot. Multiple people who live on McClure Street, First Street and near Roundtree Circle said it’s not uncommon to hear gunfire in the area.
Kira Bagley, who lives on First Street, was sitting in her car, parked on the side of the road while she waited for her boyfriend. She testified she heard two gunshots and then saw the car and truck drive past so fast that it shook her car.
She then heard more gunshots that were louder. Her boyfriend got in the car, and they drove in the direction of Roundtree Circle, where they saw Williams’ car crashed into the home.
Maurice James, who lives on Parkway Drive across from Roundtree Circle, testified that she saw a white SUV stop at the entrance to Roundtree after she heard gunshots. She saw a tall black man holding something “to the right of his leg.”
The driver of the white GMC Yukon, Rafaell Jackson, said he was on his way home from work and lives on Roundtree Circle. As he turned onto the road, he said Tuesday, Moore approached his SUV and asked for a ride. Jackson said he declined and told Moore he was on the way home.
“It was like he was scared,” he said of Moore’s demeanor. “Like he was in a fight or something.”
Lashonda Wray is related to Derrick Dixon, one of the other suspects charged in connection with Williams’ death. She told jurors she was leaving a gas station near Roundtree Circle when she heard the gunshots. She then received a phone call from Dixon’s number, but it was Moore.
“He asked me for a ride, which is normal,” she said.
Wray said she picked up Moore, Dixon and a third man and took them to Dixon’s home on Saluda Street, where they all went inside.
The men didn’t say what had happened, and Wray said they didn’t talk about anything during the ride. After talking with some cousins, she said, she left the home on Saluda Street, unaware of what had happened minutes earlier.
“I texted (Dixon’s) phone to say stay out of trouble,” she said. “I didn’t want to see anything happen to him.”
Tuesday afternoon testimony consisted mainly of law enforcement officers and investigators who responded to the scene in the hours following the shooting.
Investigators from the Chester County Sheriff’s Office and the State Law Enforcement Division testified about the evidence they recovered from the scene, including the revolver found in Williams’ Cadillac, 18 shell casings that they determined were fired from the rifle Moore allegedly used. A K-9 handler from the York County Sheriff’s Office testified to finding the rifle and magazine outside a shed at a home on Fieldcrest Drive.
SLED agent Mindy Worley told jurors Williams’ car had been hit “a minimum of six times” with bullets.
Jurors were asked to leave the room while the attorneys debated entering a statement allegedly made by Moore after he was served with the murder warrant.
Randy St. Clair, a Chester County sheriff’s investigator, testified that Moore said: “I ain’t going down for this (expletive) by myself.”
Circuit Court Judge Paul Burch overruled a defense objection to include the statement.
The defense had not begun calling witnesses late Tuesday afternoon. However, William Frick, 6th Circuit deputy public defender, suggested during opening statements that they planned to argue Moore shot Williams in self-defense.
“This is not necessarily a ‘who done it?’ ” he said. “This is more of a ‘why done it?’
“The simple fact of the matter is, if Odell Williams had not done what he did, we wouldn’t be here today,” he continued. “If he had not chased a car and fired upon them, we would not be here today.”