‘Justice Was Served’
DA, Family Express Satisfaction With Murder Conviction
MAYVILLE — “I can breathe now.”
Those were the words of William J. Michishima’s mother, Jessie Michishima, after a jury convicted David F. Waggoner of second-degree murder for the July 2018 death of her son.
“I thank God for (Chautauqua County District Attorney) Patrick Swanson. I’ve been praying for him for the last seven days,” Jessie Michishima told The Post-Journal.
The 12-person jury, comprised of nine men and three women, read the verdict just two hours into the second day of deliberation.
Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone asked the jury in his closing argument to “return David Waggoner to his family.”
The jury, however, ultimately rejected the claim that Waggoner was defending himself when he shot William J. Michishima in the head the morning of July 24, 2018, following an argument in front of 114 Livingston Ave. in Jamestown.
In speaking to reporters afterward, Swanson thanked members of the Jamestown Police Department and his office for seeing the case through to the end.
“Right now we’re pleased with what the jury did,” Swanson said. “Obviously JPD put a lot of time and effort into this case, as did our office. When you get a result like this, it’s a culmination of all that work, and I do want to send my appreciation out to the job well done by the Jamestown police (and) all of the people in my office that helped me get through this.”
Waggoner was taken into custody just moments after the shooting. A grand jury indicted him in August.
Barone maintained throughout the trial that Michishima was the aggressor when he visited Waggoner at his Livingston Avenue home. Two witnesses described seeing the two men fight before Michishima was shot in the head.
The two-and-a-half-week trial — heard before Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley — went to the jury for deliberation Wednesday afternoon. They returned a verdict before noon Thursday.
Included in the jury’s instructions were the murder charge, a second-degree manslaughter charge and a justification defense to consider. Barone and Waggoner’s defense pushed for the justification throughout the trial.
During the trial, Barone described Waggoner’s circumstance as a “life and death situation.” The public defender maintained that Waggoner acted in response to Michishima’s initial aggression, and that a progression of increasingly hostile events by Michishima lead to the shooting.
“Obviously it’s always a disappointment, of course, when you believe that you may have been in a position to receive a different verdict,” Barone said. “However, we still strongly believe that we presented a case for justification, and we’re of course disappointed with what the jury had decided.”
Barone said he did not have an insight into what may have resulted in the conviction.
“That’s what the jury’s about,” he said. “They see things in a certain way. They take certain evidence into consideration. They don’t take certain evidence into consideration so it’s always difficult to say why they look at something differently than what you may have expected.”
Waggoner is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, June 10, in front of Foley. Waggoner faces a sentence of at least 15 years to a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
Barone said the defense will push for the lower end of the possible sentencing; Swanson said his office would be satisfied with anything in the range dictated by the sentencing law.
As for Waggoner, shortly after the decision was read he hung his head and buried his face into one of his hands. The Jamestown man elected to not take the stand during trial and has maintained his innocence.
“He’s upset and he’s disappointed as well,” Barone said of Waggoner’s state of mind. “It’s a very difficult time right now.”
Barone said the defense would consider filing an appeal “if necessary” and will be considering other post-verdict motions.
During the second day of deliberation, the jury requested to review the gun believed by the prosecution to be the murder weapon and a photo of both weapons confiscated on the day of the shooting. The jury also asked to be re-read Foley’s instructions on the justification defense.
Barone believed the deliberation request was a “good sign” prior to the jury reaching the guilty verdict.
“That’s the process and that’s the way our system works,” the public defender said. “We look forward to going on to the next step at this point”
The trial began on March 13 with opening statements. Swanson rested his case March 19 while Barone rested his March 26.
“This is a very difficult process to go through,” Swanson said. “It’s time-consuming. … Today we really feel that justice was served.”
Follow Jordan Patterson at twitter.com/jordanwpatt