Testimony continues in McCool trial for two murder charges

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 31, 2019

In the second day of testimony during a murder case against Michael McCool and obstruction charges against his father, Audy McCool, the jury heard details about the evidence collected and how professionals examined it.

This case is the result of an argument over a $25 service fee that turned deadly on Jan. 23, 2016 between four people at  McLemore Arms. The now-shuttered business was located on Highway 43 North in the Henleyfield community.

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Michael McCool is on trial for the shooting deaths of 44-year-old Jason McLemore and his son 17-year-old Jacob McLemore after he engaged in an altercation with the owner of the gun store, Jason, because he disputed the fee. The fee was lodged after Michael wanted to reclaim his gun after Jason ordered parts for its repair.

During the second day of testimony, evidence was presented concerning the weapons used in the altercation and the cause and manner of death for the McLemores.

Gunpowder residue tests were conducted on the hands of all of the people present during the altercation, including the deceased McLemores, Jason’s widow Melanie, and both McCools. Results of those tests showed that everyone present in the gun store at the time of the altercation tested positive for gun powder residue, said Jacob Burchfield, a forensic scientist with the Mississippi Crime Lab. Burchfield testified that gunpowder residue would be present on everyone in such a situation, regardless whether the person fired a gun or not, due to the small space in which the altercation occurred.

Evidence brought before the jury by prosecuting attorney Clay Cranford, who is an assistant district attorney with the 15th District Attorney’s Office, appeared to show that the large curved knife allegedly used by Jacob McLemore to cut Audy and Michael McCool during the altercation only had Jacob’s blood on it. DNA testing showed Jacob’s was the only DNA found on the part of the knife tested, and that there was no mixture of DNA from other individuals on the sample taken from the knife, according to testimony by Nathan Holley with the Mississippi Crime Lab.

When cross-examined by defense attorney Jonathan Adam Miller, Holley said that two samples were taken, one from a curved portion of the knife, and another from the handle of the knife. At both locations, only Jacob’s DNA was found, Holley said.

DNA testing of the knife was conducted on small portions of the knife because it was tagged for latent fingerprint testing, said Amy Winters with the Crime Lab. However, no fingerprints of worth were recovered from that testing, testified Jimmy Purdue with the Crime Lab.

As for Jason and Jacob’s cause and manner of death, Chief Medical Examiner Mark Levaughn with the State Medical Examiner’s Office, said both men died as a result of injuries sustained as a result of gunshots, and the manner of death for both men was due to homicide. Levaughn added that the medical definition of homicide is when death is caused by the actions of another person.

Jason’s cause of death was ruled as being due to the bullet that entered his skull from below the left cheek. While Jason sustained two other bullet wounds during the fight, one to the abdomen and a graze on his thumb, the wound to the skull caused severe damage to the brain, leading to an “instantly incapacitating injury,” Levaughn said.

Jacob was also shot three times, but his cause of death was due to one of the bullets traversing the chest cavity where it struck several organs and the aorta.

By the end of Wednesday’s proceedings, the state rested. The jury was ordered to return on Thursday to continue the trial.