Tearful testimony in highway shooter trial

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BATESVILLE, Miss. — The Panola County murder case against alleged highway shooter James Willie rests largely on circumstantial evidence.

But one witness broke down on the witness stand as she identified a gun owned by Willie.

“That does appear to be the gun Willie used?”

“Yes sir, yes sir.”

The woman, apparently some sort of unidentified crime victim revealed in testimony, she saw him fire the 9 millimeter ruger.

“I did see Willie fire the gun, yes, twice.”

She then broke down in tears.

Prosecutors say they can tie that exact weapon the one used in the killing of Thomas Schlender of Nebraska along Interstate 55 in early May of 2012.

Trooper Robert Anderson was first on the scene.

“I asked if he was OK, I saw blood but got no response.”

Anderson thought he was investigating a drunk driving incident before he found more.

“When I got close to the truck I saw bullet holes in the center post and door.”

Crime scene expert Chris Weiner from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation showed the jury shell casings found at the scene which he said came from a 9 millimeter ruger handgun.

But defense attorney David Walker reminded jurors repeatedly investigators found no fingerprints or DNA evidence on the scene tying the killing to Willie.

The woman who identified the gun wanted to make a statement, but it triggered several objections, which forced the case into the judge’s chambers before it was announced the witness had been released.

With this case being largely circumstantial with no direct witnesses, prosecutors seem to have their work cut out for them, though they remain confident they have a strong case.

It could go to the jury by Tuesday.

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