Trial for Summerville man accused of murder under way
St. George — A 911 call prosecutors played Tuesday triggered crying in a Dorchester County courtroom.
The man on the phone calling for help on May 2, 2011, was on the witness stand. Earl Lewis had dialed 911 after finding 18-year-old Justin Smoot outside his home on Muir Court.
“Someone just got shot,” Lewis told a dispatcher.
Smoot had been shot once in the chest area, according to prosecutors. Anthony Willis Jr., 19, of Summerville is accused of pulling the trigger and is charged with his murder. He pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors described Smoot as a high school student who had his whole future and life in front of him.
First Circuit Assistant Solicitor Barney Giese told the jury in opening statements Smoot was at a bus stop at the Churchhill Commons apartments on Old Trolley Road when Willis, who witnesses called “A.J.,” got into an argument with Smoot. Following a verbal and physical altercation, Willis shot at Smoot, Giese said.
After missing, Willis went up to Smoot near Muir Court and shot him with a “high-powered rifle,” Giese claimed.
“Mr. Willis hunts him down,” he said. “His life, terminated. His future, terminated.”
Defense attorneys did not get into specifics about the series of events. Mitchell Farley, Willis’ attorney, told the jury they need to be skeptical of evidence presented.
“Everyone comes to court with their own agendas,” Farley said. “Part of your job is to sort out the liars and the ones telling the truth.”
Several witnesses were also called to the stand by the prosecution, including friends of Smoot, who were at the scene of the shooting.
While the jury will hear no mention of it during the murder trial, authorities in Summerville charged Willis in March with robbery and carjacking in two separate incidents while he was out on bail from the murder charge, authorities said. Those charges remain pending.
Willis faces the possibility of a sentence of 30 years to life if convicted of murder.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.