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Evidence in Godbolt murder case still coming in

Prosecutors await three autopsy reports, forwarding info to defense

Prosecutors expect to have all the evidence against accused shooter Willie Cory Godbolt ready later in the fall, and the court could begin setting up for his trial by year’s end.

At a status hearing for Godbolt in Lincoln County Circuit Court Thursday afternoon, the district attorney’s office said it had received autopsy reports from the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory for five of the eight victims of the 2017 Memorial Day weekend massacre, for which Godbolt stands accused, and has been promised the sixth report very soon. Assistant district attorney Brendon Adams said the office is in “constant contact” with the crime lab and hopes to have all reports received by the date of Godbolt’s next pretrial status hearing, which judge David Strong set for Nov. 13, at 1 p.m.

“Hopefully, when we get to November we’ll have everything and be able to start looking at taking the next steps,” Adams said.

Godbolt has pleaded not-guilty to four counts of capital murder, four counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and kidnapping charges for his alleged part in the shootings the night of May 27 and 28, 2017. Thursday was his third appearance in court. He has been held at the Copiah County Jail since his arrest the morning after the shootings last year.

District attorney Dee Bates is seeking the death penalty for Godbolt.

Thursday’s status hearing was brief, around five minutes, as neither prosecution nor defense filed any new motions for Strong to consider. Discovery between the two sides is ongoing and without complaint.

State public defender Alison Steiner, representing Godbolt alongside Lincoln County public defender Jason Tate, said the defense would not seek a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.

“There’s no basis to have one,” she said.

More than 30 family and friends of the eight victims attended the hearing, which was secured by a dozen deputies. It has been 15 months since the murders of Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputy William Durr, 36; Barbara Mitchell, 56; Tocarra May, 35; Brenda May, 55; Jordan Blackwell, 18; Austin Edwards, 11; Sheila Burage, 46; and Ferral Burage, 45.

Thelma Galloway, Tocarra May’s grandmother, said her granddaughter spent time with her every day and often took her back and forth to Jackson for doctor’s appointments.

“I miss that girl,” she said. “If (Godbolt) is locked up for the rest of his life, that’s satisfaction for me — and I mean for the rest of his life. Don’t let him out.”

Galloway’s niece, Emelda Thompson, said she came to the hearing Thursday to support her aunt. She said the family is not upset about the slow pace of Godbolt’s case.

“We have the patience,” Thompson said. “Whatever date they set, we’ll be here. But it’s been really hard on these families, especially on the one-year anniversary of these crimes.”

Remelda Dalton, Godbolt’s first cousin, also came to Thursday’s hearing. She said she visits him in jail every Tuesday and plans to be there for his trial.

“I don’t approve of what he’s done, but we’re still family. I can’t give up on him,” she said.