Opening arguments were held Tuesday and six law enforcement witnesses testified in a Pottawatomie County trial for the woman charged in connection with the 2017 death of Tecumseh Police Officer Justin Terney.
A jury of six men and six women, along with two alternates, is hearing the trial of Brooklyn Danielle Williams, 24, who is charged with second degree murder.
During opening arguments, District 21 Prosecutor Pattye High read the charges to the jury, outlining that Williams is accused, on or about March 26, 2017, of engaging in the felony offense of harboring a fugitive and concealing Byron James Shepard, a person she knew to be a fugitive from justice.
While she was in the commission of that felony, charges allege Shepard, 37, who was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by Williams and stopped by Officer Terney, fired a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol into the abdomen of the Tecumseh police officer, causing mortal wounds.
High told jurors that Officer Terney, at 22 years old, had been on the job as a Tecumseh police officer for just 192 days before he died.
She described what happened that night as Shepard gave Terney a wrong name and told jurors they would see Terney's dash cam video that recorded the last nine minutes of the officer's conscious life.
“Justin Terney went to his grave not knowing who shot him and not knowing why, but she does,” High told jurors in her opening statements, adding Williams had been told Shepard was a fugitive and knew he had a gun.
Defense Attorney Larry Monard, in his opening remarks, told jurors the evidence needs to cover a specific time — from the time of the traffic stop lights to when Shepard ran from the scene. He told jurors it was Shepard who killed Terney that night, not Williams, and said she's not guilty of what she's been accused of in this case.
The state's first witness, David Young, an Okfuskee County Sheriff's Deputy, testified that he had many discussions with Williams while he was searching for Shepard on felony warrants in that county, testifying that Shepard's only known associate was Williams.
He testified that he had at least five contacts with Williams while trying to find Shepard, all while reminding her that harboring a fugitive is a felony offense.
Tecumseh Assistant Police Chief Mike Mallinson, who was a lieutenant back in 2017, was second to testify and spent the most time on the witness stand, with his testimony augmenting and often explaining police communications of the audio recordings from that night.
The jury also viewed just over 21 minutes of footage from the dash camera in Terney's patrol car, including the audio from Terney's body microphone.
Mallinson, a field training officer, was training a new officer that night, Allana Colan, who also took the witness stand Tuesday. The night of Terney's shooting was her first night on the job — and only five days after her graduation from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
Both responded to back up Terney at the traffic stop, where Terney knew from dispatch that Williams was driving under suspension, and he was trying to identify Shepard, who had no ID and was giving him false names.
The two arrived at the scene and parked just before Shepard fled into a wooded area, with Terney giving chase. Mallinson followed and testified he heard multiple gunshots, and from the video, you can hear Terney saying on the police radio, “Central, I've been hit,” and then later saying, “Central, I've been shot.”
Mallinson found Terney in the darkness and testified about those moments as he was in the woods with the wounded officer and Shepard, who also was injured by gunfire. At the time, Shepard's identity was still unknown to law enforcement.
He testifed he wanted to get Terney out of there and assured Terney help was on the way, but Mallinson said it “seemed like an eternity” as the officer was losing consciousness.
At times, Mallinson had to wipe tears from his eyes.
“When I looked at him, he was turning blue,” Mallinson said. “I knew we had to get help quick.”
As other law enforcement officers arrived and helped secure the suspect, Sheriff's Deputy Travis Dinwiddie's body camera recorded his steps along the way. He testified he heard Terney's voice on the radio and responded to the scene from McLoud. Usually working the same shift as Terney, he said they often responded to many calls together and were friends.
In his body cam video, you can hear him saying “Terney, stay with us buddy, alright,” and later, “Terney, you hang in there buddy,” as a few officers arrived and searched to find the gunshot wound found in Terney's abdomen.
Although Terney was losing consciousness and was silent, Shepard is heard on the recording yelling and moaning at times from his injuries.
While all of this was unfolding in the pasture, former Tecumseh Officer Colan testified about waiting at the car with Williams, who was still sitting in the driver's seat. She testified that Williams told her she didn't know the suspect's name and that she had just moved to Tecumseh the day before, with Williams saying she was “sorry” several times.
Shepard, who was later identified, ended up being hospitalized and later recovered from his wounds. He faces first-degree murder charges in the officer's death and has pleaded not guilty in his case.
Testimony will resume in Williams' trial Wednesday. Based on the case file, about 60 subpoenas were issued for possible witnesses in this case.