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Tuesday testimony: Witnesses describe events after World War II veteran's 2014 murder

Meridian Star - 8/29/2017

Aug. 29--Testimony in the trial of Shon P. Byrd, accused of the 2014 shooting death of a World War II veteran, continued Tuesday, as the prosecution asked more witnesses to recall the events of that Mother's Day.

H.L. "Billy" Putnam, a World War II veteran, died in his vehicle from a gunshot wound outside of Vowell's Market Place on North Hills Street on May 11, 2014 after reportedly buying his wife flowers for Mother's Day.

Police arrested and charged Byrd with capital murder, armed robbery and three counts of credit card fraud.

Tuesday morning, three Vowell's customers and one former employee testified to seeing a young black man running west toward Shumate Road. None of the witnesses said they would positively identify the suspect.

Roxanne Henson, a customer day, said she saw the events from the parking lot just a few cars down from Putnam's car, where he died and the shooting allegedly occurred. Henson said she saw the Mercury Grand Marquis, the vehicle that Byrd, Veronica Ferguson and Decarlos Santez Clark drove that day, drive toward her.

Henson said she "had the impression there were two men" in the car but couldn't be certain.

Retired Meridian Police Detective Greg Crane, the lead investigator, testified that he photographed the scene and recovered two bullet fragments and two casings. Two of the shots lodged themselves into the passenger seat while the third shot went through the passenger door.

Clark, convicted as an accessory after the fact and of two counts of credit card fraud, testified he drove the car to Vowell's Market Place that day but his testimony differed from Ferguson's testimony Monday on details and the timeline. Specifically, the two testimonies varied about when the group switched the cars and when the police arrived.

Ferguson said Monday she told Clark's mother about the shooting and his mother called the police, who arrived shortly, while Byrd and Clark switched the Grand Marquis with another vehicle. After police left, Ferguson said the three went to the mall to go shopping.

Clark said he told his mother after Byrd left his home and Ferguson went to the home of Lyndell Pritchard, Clark's brother who lived across the street. Then, Clark, Ferguson and Byrd all switched Clark's Grand Marquis for Pritchard's Impala and went to the mall, returning when Clark's mother said the police were looking for them, Clark said.

Ferguson, charged as an accessory after the fact and with three counts of credit card fraud, testified Monday that she had made a deal with the state to drop her 14 years of prison time in exchange for her testimony at Byrd's trial. Clark testified Tuesday that he had pled guilty to his charges and was serving out his sentence.

The defense attempted to cast doubt on Ferguson's testimony Monday. During the cross examination, defense attorney John Helmert Jr. asked Ferguson about her relationship to Pritchard, her boyfriend at the time and father of her child.

Helmert said Monday there were four people in the car: Clark, Ferguson, Byrd and Pritchard, saying that Pritchard committed the crimes while Byrd stayed in the car.

On Tuesday, Helmert said he anticipated a lengthy cross examination of Clark and asked the court to recess for lunch.

The trial was scheduled to continue at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Please check back for updates.

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(c)2017 The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.)

Visit The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.) at meridianstar.com

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