Today (Thursday) will be the first full day of testimony in the voluntary manslaughter trial of Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Butler. He’s accused of shooting and killing Dwayne Jens of Hancock after a chase December 30th. In the prosecutor’s opening statements on Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Charles Thoman said Butler shot an unarmed man within seconds of Jens pulling over. He says the evidence will show that the deputy shot Jens without an resistance, without giving him any commands to get out or put his hands up.Thoman said Butler told inconsistent stories about what happened, first saying he thought Jens had a weapon in his hand, and then later saying Jens did not have a weapon. In her opening statements, attorney Lori Falk-Goss says Butler did make statements to a variety of people, but she says one fact remains the same. She says the one thing that’s consistent after Butler had time to replay the incident over and over, “Chad was afraid for his life.” Falk-Goss says of the 21 witnesses the prosecution has lined up to testify, 20 of them were not there at the time of the shooting. She says, “They don’t know what Chad was thinking, they don’t know what happened in the vehicle. They only can tell you what happened after the pursuit, after the shot was fired.” She says they’ll tell what they learned after the incident was over.The only prosecution witness who was at the scene at the time of the shooting was Dwayne Jens’ 13-year-old daughter, Angela, who was in the truck with her father that night. Angela was the second witness called by the prosecution and was on the stand for less than ten minutes. In her testimony, Angela said she was looking straight ahead at the time of the shooting and did not see what her dad, or Deputy Butler, were doing or what movements either was making. Angela says she didn’t turn to look at her dad until after the shot was fired. She says, “When my dad stopped the truck, I hear glass shatter, and then my head was bleeding. So I started, um, crying and screaming. And I looked over at my dad and he was just laying there dead, so I was shaking him and screaming. I got out of the truck and ran to the back and sat down screaming ‘he’s dead, he’s dead’ and the deputy walked up, walked up saying it’s going to be okay, and walked up to dad and said ‘sir are you okay’.”Angela was struck in the head by shrapnel from the bullet that passed through her father’s skull. She was treated and released for the injury. The prosecution called a total of nine witnesses to the stand on Wednesday and testimony in the case ran from 8:30 A.M. until almost 5:30 P.M. A similar schedule is planned for today and tomorrow. At the start of the trial on Tuesday, Judge James Richardson had said the trial might continue on Saturday if need be, as he hoped to have the trial over with by the end of the week.
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