Selection of jurors continues in DeSoto for capital murder trial

Published 8:44 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Attorneys questioned potential jurors in DeSoto County Tuesday for the death penalty case of a Lincoln County man accused of killing eight people.

It was the second day of jury selection in the capital murder trial of Willie Cory Godbolt of Bogue Chitto.

Is is likely the group of 12 jurors and three alternates will be selected later today unless attorneys encounter delays.

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Jury selection started Monday at the DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando, which is near Memphis, Tennessee.

Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, public information officer for the Mississippi court system, said 500 people were summoned for jury selection. Of the 206 who showed up in court, 75 were excused during questioning Monday. More were excused Tuesday although that number was not available.

Jurors and alternates will be taken about 285 miles south to hear the trial at a courthouse in Magnolia, which is near Lincoln County. They will be sequestered through the duration of the trial, Kraft said.

Judge David Strong of the Mississippi 14th Circuit Court District is presiding over the trial.

Godbolt has pleaded not guilty to four counts of capital murder, four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery. He has remained in custody since his arrest on May 28, 2017, hours after the shootings.

Investigators said Godbolt went to his in-laws’ home on Lee Drive in Bogue Chitto in May 2017 and argued with his estranged wife, Sheena, and her family over the couple’s two children.

A deputy was called, and a witness said Godbolt shot and killed deputy William Durr, Godbolt’s mother-in-law, Barbara Mitchell, and also Toccora May and Brenda May.

After that, Godbolt shot and killed four other people at two other homes, police said. They were cousins Jordan Blackwell, 18, and Austin Edwards, 11, at Blackwell’s parents’ home on Coopertown Road, and Ferral Burage and his wife Sheila May Burage at their home on East Lincoln Road.

Godbolt was also related to Blackwell, Brenda May and Sheila Burage through his wife.

Godbolt, now 37, said “I’m sorry” while a reporter was recording him during his arrest.