Trial for Summerville man accused of murder begins
The trial for the man accused of killing an 18-year-old man after an alleged argument in Dorchester County last year is underway.
Anthony Willis Jr., 19, of Summerville is charged with the murder of 18-year-old Justin Smoot. Willis is accused of shooting and killing Smoot with a rifle on Muir Court on May 2, 2011, authorities said.
On Tuesday opening statements began at the Dorchester County courthouse in St. George. Prosecutors described Smoot as a high student who had his whole future and life in front of him.
Prosecutors told the jury that Smoot was at a bus stop at the Churchhill apartment complex on Old Trolley Road when Williams, referred to by witnesses as “A.J.”, got into an argument with Smoot. Following the verbal and then physical altercation, Willis shot at Smoot, according to prosecutors.
After shooting at and missing Smoot, prosecutors claim Willis went up to Smoot and shot him.
“Mr. Willis hunts him down,”prosecutors told the jury. “His life, terminated. His future, terminated.”
Defense attorneys did not get into specifics about the series of events during opening statements but spoke to the jury about the burden of proof the state is required to present for a guilty verdict.
Attorneys for Willis, who is pleading not-guilty, told the jury they need to be skeptical of the evidence presented. Several witnesses were also called to the stand by the prosecution by mid-day on Monday including friends of Smoot, some claiming to see the shooting.
While the jury will hear no mention of it during the murder trial, in March authorities in Summerville charged Willis with a robbery and carjacking they said took place while he was out on bail for the murder charge.
The charges related to those cases remain pending, according to court records. Willis faces the possibility of a 30-year to life sentence, if convicted of murder this week.