News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 24, 2013

No testimony, witnesses for defense in Mallory murder trial

Closing arguments expected today before case goes to jury for deliberations

TERRE HAUTE — No defense testimony will be presented in a Vigo County murder trial that continues this morning with the presentation of closing arguments and jury deliberation.

Upon conclusion of the prosecution’s criminal case against 22-year-old William Mallory on Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Vernon Lorenz indicated that the defense would call no witnesses or present evidence against the allegation of felony murder.

The trial is expected to conclude today after jury deliberation.

Mallory has been charged with six criminal counts in the August 2012, shooting death of 24-year-old Dustin Kelly and the shootings of Donte Pettus and Terrance Trotter. All three were shot in a parking lot near the Ballyhoo Tavern at Ninth and Chestnut streets.

Mallory faces charges of felony murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery and a misdemeanor charge of possession of a handgun without a permit. He faces a prison term of 45 to 65 years if convicted of felony murder.

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Wrede called two final witnesses Wednesday afternoon – the Marion County sheriff’s deputy to whom Mallory turned himself in on the morning of the shootings, and an Indiana State University student who was leaving the tavern with friends and witnessed part of the shooting incident.

Deputy Paul Miller said that he was on duty in the guard shack of the City County Building in Indianapolis when Mallory and his mother, who resides in Indianapolis, approached the guard shack shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2012. Miller said he placed Mallory into custody and accepted a shoebox that contained a handgun and ammunition that Mallory said were used in the shootings. Vigo County authorities were then notified that Mallory was in custody.

Miller testified that Mallory said that a man at the tavern had tried to hit him so he shot the man, and Mallory said that another man also tried to hit him, so Mallory shot that man twice.

After the shootings, Mallory left Terre Haute and traveled to Indianapolis to see his mother.

Janessa Wolf, 23, testified that she was at the Ballyhoo Tavern with two friends on the night of the shootings. She said they had just gotten into their vehicle to drive away when the shootings occurred. Wolf said she ducked down inside the car after hearing the gunshots, but she peaked out the car window and saw a man, who was already lying on the ground, being shot.

During the testimony Wednesday morning, the jury saw video of the defendant telling Terre Haute Police detectives that he shot three people in self-defense.

As day three in the trial got under way, Wrede played two video interviews that the defendant had with police.

Seated in the courtroom as the videos were played, Mallory showed no emotion as he watched the videos in which he talks to THPD detectives Starla Neidigh and Troy Davis.

“I was just trying to make it home safe,” Mallory says in one part of the video, when asked by Neidigh why he just didn’t get in his car and go home after leaving the tavern, where he had an earlier encounter with Pettus. Mallory also replied that he was concerned about a cousin who was with him, and said he felt threatened when Pettus and several others approached him in the parking lot.

When asked in the recorded interview, Mallory said he did not feel sorry about the shootings. In another interview a few days later, Mallory told the detectives that he forgot to tell them that Pettus had claimed — during their encounter inside the bar — to be a gang member who could kill Mallory. At the conclusion of that second recorded interview, Mallory told police he had not meant to kill anyone in the shooting, but he did not apologize for his actions.

The 12-member jury also heard testimony Wednesday from other witnesses to the 2012 incident.

Cory Grigsby stated that he knew Pettus, Kelly and Trotter, but not Mallory or his friends. Grigsby said he saw some people in the parking lot “talking crap” to each other, but he ran when gunfire broke out. Grigsby said he did not see anyone punch anyone else and saw no other weapon possessed by anyone at the scene.

Witness Nathanial “Romeo” Housely testified that he was with friends at the Ballyhoo when he saw what appeared to be an argument between Mallory and Pettus inside the tavern. The witness said he later saw Pettus fall in the parking lot after being shot.

Neidigh testified that when she spoke to Mallory in Indianapolis, he said that he felt threatened by Pettus and others.

“I feel bad for having to take that route,” Mallory told Neidigh in the recorded interview, “but I can’t say I was sorry for it.”

Neidigh also verified a document from the Indiana State Police that shows Mallory did not have a permit to carry a handgun on the night of the shooting.

Heavy security remained in place at the courthouse on Wednesday as a deterrent to disruptions by observers of the trial. The Vigo County Sheriff’s Department ordered the extra security because of a courtroom brawl that broke out between the families of the defendant and victims when Mallory was initially arraigned in the shooting case.

Those security measures will remain in place for the rest of the trial.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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