Godbolt case won’t be heard this year

Published 9:17 pm Monday, December 11, 2017

A Lincoln County grand jury won’t hear the case this year of a man accused of killing eight people over Memorial Day weekend.

Willie Cory Godbolt, 35, remains in jail without bond, waiting for the jury to hear his case and decide if he will be indicted, said District Attorney Dee Bates.

The Bogue Chitto man is charged with capital murder in the death of Lincoln County deputy William Durr and seven counts of first degree murder in the deaths of his mother-in-law and six others who were his relatives or acquaintances.

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Witnesses have said the fatal shootings May 27 and May 28 started after Godbolt was arguing with his estranged wife.

Bates said in July that it would take time to get the evidence that was collected from the three locations processed by the crime lab and the autopsy reports from the medical examiner. He had expected that to be completed by the fall, so a grand jury could hear the case before the end of the year.

Bates said backlogs with the Mississippi Crime Lab have caused delays in getting all of the evidence processed in the case. Autopsies on the victims were completed, but the medical examiner’s office is short a pathologist on the staff and reports have not been finalized, he said.

“Some things have not been completed by the crime lab,” he said.

He anticipates evidence will be ready to present to a grand jury at the first of the year. A new grand jury will be impaneled Jan. 8, however, Bates doesn’t expect they’ll hear the Godbolt case before February.

Godbolt made an appearance in Brookhaven July 26 before Judge Bryan Harbour, a Pike County justice court judge. Harbour found after just 15 minutes of testimony that there was enough evidence against Godbolt for his case to be bound over to a Lincoln County grand jury.

Harbour was appointed by Lincoln County Circuit Judge Michael Taylor because Lincoln County Justice Judges Roger Martin and Joe Portrey recused themselves from hearing the case. No reason for the recusal was listed on their request to Taylor.

According to testimony given by Jason Leggett of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, four people were fatally shot inside the Lee Drive home on May 27: Durr, 36, Godbolt’s mother-in-law Barbara May Mitchell, 55, her sister Brenda May, 53,  and her daughter, Tocarra May, 35, all of Bogue Chitto.

MBI investigations  determined that two victims were killed after midnight on May 28 at the house Coopertown Road  by gunshot wounds: cousins Austin Edwards, 11, and, Jordan Blackwell, 17, both of Brookhaven.

A married couple were killed by gunshot wounds at the house on East Lincoln Road, which is where Godbolt surrendered to police: Ferral Burage, 45, and Sheila Burage, 46, of Brookhaven.

The murder weapons — two rifles and two pistols — were also recovered at the house on East Lincoln Road. One pistol belonged to Ferral Burage, the rest belonged to Godbolt, Leggett said.

Godbolt had his first court appearance May 30 at the Copiah County Justice Court in Gallman.

He was charged with one count of capital murder in Durr’s death and seven counts of first degree murder for the deaths of the other seven people. If found guilty, Godbolt could face the death penalty or life without parole for the capital murder charge. First degree murder can carry a penalty of life in prison with the eligibility of parole.

Martin, who preceded over that appearance, denied bond for Godbolt. He has been housed since his arrest May 28 in Copiah County jail.

Court documents detailing the charges against Godbolt state that he knew Durr was a law enforcement officer when he allegedly killed him.

Other cases to be heard

Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies investigated two other separate shootings this year.

The county’s first homicide came in March. Evelyn Hanks, 81, called 911 March 18 requesting an ambulance at her residence on Furrs Mill Road near Lake Lincoln. Deputies and first responders found the woman in the living room and she’d been shot in the chest with a handgun. She told authorities her husband was in the bedroom and might be dead.

Her husband, Chester Hanks, 83, was pronounced dead at the scene. He’d also been shot with a handgun. Rushing said in March based on the information she provided deputies, the case remains under investigation by as a murder-attempted suicide.

The 10th fatal shooting of the year occurred June 18 in West Lincoln.

Cody A. Newell, 25, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics from King’s Daughters Medical Center, according to Lincoln County Deputy Coroner Ricky Alford.

Newell’s wife had extensive physical injuries, Rushing said at the time. She was taken to KDMC and later transferred to a hospital in Jackson.

She was identified as Jamie Newell in her husband’s obituary.

Deputies received the call at 12:40 a.m. Rushing said Newell’s wife went to her neighbor’s house and said she’d been physically assaulted and that she’d shot her husband in their home.

Deputies arrived on the scene and found Newell’s body.

He’d been shot at least once with a handgun, Alford said, which was recovered at the scene.

No charges were filed in either case.

Bates said the cases are expected be heard by the grand jury this month.

“I hope to have some resolution to both cases,” he said.

Willie C. Godbolt