Hall on trial for murder

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The murder trial of Gary Hall began on Monday in the 15th Circuit Court in Poplarville.

Hall’s attorney was building a case based on self-defense during Tuesday’s court proceedings, while the prosecution presented testimony from a forensic pathologist that would suggest there was no call for self defense in the shooting death of William Graham.

This case began in November of 2011 after Hall was charged with murder for the shooting death of William Graham. Initial reports state that Hall was at a woman’s home in Pearl River County when another man, Graham, arrived and a fight ensued, leading to Graham being shot by Hall.

Tuesday was the second day in the trial, where Mississippi Crime Lab firearms examiner Lauri Beall testified that the rounds found on scene matched Hall’s Ruger P97 .45 caliber handgun.

Later, the prosecution displayed photographs of the wounds Graham suffered, showing that the deceased was shot from the front, in what appeared to be a non-aggressive stance. Forensic Pathologist Erin Barnhart said the wound to Graham’s left arm shows that Graham’s arm was at his side when he was shot. Barnhart said Graham also suffered a bullet wound to his chest, which struck his aorta, causing death in less than a minute.

Hall took the stand Tuesday to share his side of the story. In his testimony he described a relationship with Taryn Westbrook, whose house he was at the night of the shooting. Hall testified that the two had met 10 years before the incident and had shared a home for a time. She would later become pregnant and claim the child was Hall’s. However, during a fight, she insinuated to Hall that the child was in fact someone else’s, Hall said during his testimony.

Later, Westbrook was arrested for an unknown charge, putting the child in the custody of Hall, he said. At some point during that time, DHS requested a DNA test to determine paternity, which concluded that Hall is not the father.

Graham and Hall became acquainted with each other when Hall went to pick the child up from Graham’s home. Hall described the meeting as tense, receiving a threat from Graham because law enforcement was involved in the pick up.

Sometime later, Westbrook called Hall to warn him that Graham was on the way to Hall’s home to “shoot up his house”.

Later that same night, Hall recalled seeing headlights at his home. When he got up to see who it was, he saw Graham get out of the car, and then use a shotgun to shoot the glass door to his home and his vehicle.

Hall and Westbrook would later reestablish a sexual relationship. On that November night in 2011 Hall testified that  he went to her home to engage in sexual activity. Later that night, as he slept in Westbrook’s bed, he awoke to find an unidentified person standing over him asking what he was doing there.

A fight ensued, Hall testified, where the man attacked him in the dark while he was still in bed.

Hall testified that he grabbed his gun, which he carried with him in an overnight bag on a regular basis, and shot Graham twice before ultimately leaving the scene. Hall testified that it was not until after Westbrook turned on the lights that he identified the man as Graham.

Hall testified he then headed for his father’s home where he met with his family to tell them what happened and discuss turning himself in with members of his church. One of the church members took Hall and his weapon to the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department where Hall turned himself in.

By Tuesday afternoon the prosecution and defense had rested. A decision on the case will follow in a subsequent story.