(UPDATED) Opening Statements Detail Morning Of July Shooting, Murder
MAYVILLE — Opening statements have been made in the second-degree murder trial of David F. Waggoner in Chautauqua County Court.
Waggoner, 54, is accused of shooting William J. Michishima in Jamestown last summer. Michishima was taken to an Erie, Pa., hospital where he died the following day.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson is handling the prosecution of the case, which is taking place in front of County Court Judge David Foley.
Waggoner is being represented by Public Defender Ned Barone.
Swanson made his opening statements, detailing the July 24, 2018, shooting on Livingston Avenue in Jamestown.
Barone also made opening statements Wednesday. However, Swanson objected three times while Barone spoke on statements the public defender made.
In Swanson’s opening statement, he introduced the events that occurred the day Michishima was shot. He briefly mentioned several accounts from witnesses that will likely speak during trial. Swanson alluded to witnesses who will detail that Waggoner allegedly shot Michishima as he stumbled during a scuffle.
Citing two witnesses’ accounts who allegedly witnessed the events, Swanson said: “(Waggoner and Michishima) appeared to engage in a brief scuffle. As one of the men stumbled, the other man, the long-haired man, reached into his pants with his right hand, pulled out a gun, raised it, aimed it and fired one shot into the top of the head of the other man.”
Swanson said Waggoner had his girlfriend, Kimberly Johnston, hid the weapon in question and another firearm. The weapons were later revealed to the Jamestown Police Department.
According to Swanson, Waggoner returned to the scene of the shooting. Two separate witnesses who didn’t witness the shooting were examining Michishima’s body when Waggoner returned. One of the witnesses who witnessed the shooting yelled from several houses down the street, “Someone’s got a gun,'” Swanson said, to which Waggoner replied “There’s no (expletive) gun. There’s no (expletive) gun.”
According to Swanson, Waggoner told a witness at the time that he had pushed Michishima who then hit his head. Also, Waggoner removed a piece of paper that was still in Michishima’s hand. The piece of paper was later revealed to be the title of a motorcycle.
Swanson’s and Barone’s statements appeared to both indicate an altercation preceded Waggoner shooting Michishima. Also, both opening statements indicated that the motorcycle parked on the side of the road near the scene on the day of the shooting was a key factor in the dispute.
Barone’s statement did not deny that Waggoner shot and killed Michishima, but continuously described the actions as an act of defense and implicated Michishima as the aggressor. He often used the term “life and death” situation when describing the events of that day.
“(Waggoner) had no other choice, but to fight for his loved ones and himself,” Barone said to the jury.
Barone provided details indicating Michishima had allegedly stolen Waggoner’s motorcycle and attempted to break into Waggoner’s home the morning of the shooting.
A brief recess was held between the prosecution, defense and Foley. Foley indicated the recess would be used to review case law involving precedents for trials where the defense is arguing a particular crime’s justification and the evidence needed to prove such a defense. Foley also said he was concerned about “character assassination” of Michishima and wanted to ensure that any history of violence, psychiatric care or drug abuse Barone cited in his opening statement was known by Waggoner prior to the shooting.
Before moving to recess, Foley again instructed the jury on the rules jurors must adhere to and reminded them they are not allowed to discuss the trial until deliberation.
Following the recess, court went to lunch. Court is scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.