Co-defendant recalls night of Chester councilman's shooting
Many of the people in the witness box of a Fairfield County courtroom this week said they didn’t want to be there.
Terrance Buchanan, charged with accessory to a felony in the murder of Chester City Council member Odell Williams, said he did. He wanted “to tell the truth.”
“I thought it was the right thing to do,” Buchanan, 26, said on the stand during the trial for Christopher Moore, 19, who is charged with fatally shooting Williams with a rifle the night of Nov. 4, 2014. Four other men, including Buchanan, were charged as accessories.
Police have said previously it was Buchanan’s confession and outlining of the crime that broke the investigation and led to the arrests.
Buchanan, who has been free on bond, testified Wednesday that he knew Williams growing up and that the councilman and former police officer was his football coach when he was 10 years old.
He testified that he didn’t recognize his former coach the night of the shooting, though, and said none of the men in the gold Dodge Ram knew who was driving the burgundy Cadillac coupe pursuing them across town.
The men had gone to rob someone at a home on Holmes Road because “we didn’t get along with each other,” Buchanan testified. The intended target wasn’t home, and while waiting in a field between Holmes and Featherstone roads, Buchanan said, he noticed a car “creeping by” on Featherstone and told the group it was time to leave.
The men had parked at Williams’ shop on Featherstone Road, Buchanan said, and Williams’ wife testified previously they saw the truck parked at the business and called him to come check it out.
Williams showed up as the truck pulled from Featherstone Road onto Old York Road and began pursuing it. Buchanan said he told the truck’s driver, Quinton McClinton, to slow down to see what the driver of the Cadillac wanted, and McClinton stopped at a barber shop.
The driver of the Cadillac, still unknown to the men at the time, started to get out but McClinton took off, Buchanan said. As the truck made a left onto Patrick Street, the men heard three gunshots. From there, they went to First Street and then Saluda Street, at times reaching speeds of 70 mph as they made their way to Parkway Drive and Roundtree Circle.
At that point, Moore, who was in the back seat of the quad-cab pickup, began saying, “Let me out,” Buchanan said. When Moore opened the door, McClinton hit the gas, causing Moore to fall out with an SKS rifle in his hand, which went off.
Buchanan testified they didn’t stop to get Moore, who fell out of the truck near the intersection of Parkway Drive and Roundtree Circle. They continued down Roundtree Circle and ditched the truck near Fieldcrest.
“All we were trying to do was get out the truck,” he said. “We all got out of the truck and went our own ways.”
Buchanan said he ditched two guns in a backyard between Fieldcrest Drive and Parkway Drive. It was in that area that he encountered Moore again, who appeared “paranoid” and told him, “I think I shot that man,” he testified.
A family member of Buchanan’s is friends with Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, he said, and about three weeks after the fatal shooting he spoke with investigators.
Williams died of a “through and through” gunshot wound to the head, Dr. Robert Thomas of York Pathology Associates testified. He had a single gunshot wound that entered his right cheek and exited his left cheek, shattering facial bones and severing an external jugular vein.
A paramedic who responded to the scene said Wednesday that Williams was able to get on the stretcher on his own and was even combative with paramedics at one point. They had requested a helicopter, but Williams stopped breathing and they could not find a pulse, so he was taken to Chester Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Jurors on Wednesday also heard from several State Law Enforcement Division investigators who explained their findings from fingerprint and ballistics testing.
The case is being tried in Fairfield County after a judge ruled the amount of pre-trial publicity it had received would prevent Moore from receiving a fair trial in Chester County.
The state is expected to continue calling witnesses Thursday morning.