Prosecution rests its case in murder trial for Huntsville police officer

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday in the murder trial for Huntsville Police Officer William Darby. 

The defense is expected to start presenting its case Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

William Darby

During opening statements, prosecutors gave a brief rundown of what happened in April of 2018. Officers were responding to a call of a suicidal man.

Darby says he shot Jeffrey Parker after he didn't put down his gun. He claims he acted in self-defense, saying he feared for his and other officers' lives.

Prosecutors said Darby can't claim self-defense when he was “the main aggressor." They argue Parker was not aggressive and even told another officer he was not going to hurt them.

Meanwhile, the defense said while this entire situation is tragic, it was a justifiable homicide.

The defense argues Darby was trying to take control of a situation once he saw another officer breaking protocol and putting herself in danger.

The defense wrapped up, saying they will go over Darby's reasoning for his actions during the trial.

Attorney Robert Tuten says Darby's reasoning could be wrong, but that does not make him a murderer.

Prosecutors called up several witnesses to the stand. They included the 911 Operator Manager, the first 2 officers who responded to the scene, a state medical examiner and the lead investigator of the case. Jurors got to see body camera footage as well as graphic photos from the autopsy and investigation. 

The two officers called to the stand got to explain their actions. 

Officer Genisha Pegues and Justin Beckles were the first at the scene. Pegues said there were three possible scenarios in her head when she was heading to the scene: de-escalation, Parker taking his life or suicide by cop. 

"It could go any way," Pegues said.

Pegues was speaking to Jeffrey Parker from the front door. She says she was working to de-escalate the situation when Darby showed up.

Officer Beckles says Darby was supposed to act as additional backup. He added that Darby did not ask any questions when he arrived and was not instructed to take action.

Body camera footage shows Darby yelling at Pegues to point her weapon at Parker before barging into the home. She says he made the situation worse with his elevated tone and pointing the shotgun at Parker. Darby told Parker to put down his weapon several times before shooting it. 

Pegues said Parker told her he didn't want to hurt anyone and did not feel like she was in danger or in need of saving.

Beckles also said Parker did not do anything to show he wanted to do anything other than to harm himself. 

The defense argues Pegues was the reason why Darby felt like he needed to take action. That is because she was breaking protocol and putting herself in danger.

Pegues did not have her gun pointed at Parker and was in a danger zone officers refer to as the fatal funnel. Beckles said he also believed Pegues was in danger just because Parker had a gun. Officers are trained to know that no matter where the gun is pointed at, it could be shot at you before you can react.

When the defense asked Pegues whether she wanted the jury to believe she wasn't in a dangerous position, she responded "Dangerous is the job."

The lead investigator explained to the jury the process that happened after the shooting. 

Joshua Vogel said he waited two to three days to take Darby's statement because research shows your memory improves after waiting that timeframe. 

The jury was able to watch video of that statement. In it, Darby said he knew Parker was suicidal and had a gun before he arrived to the scene. He saw Officer Pegues inside the home talking to Parker and thought, "She was in danger and not protecting herself."

Darby says he decided to intervene because he was not going to risk his or his fellow officer's safety because he believed Parker had the opportunity to hurt them all. 

"I regret it being necessary, but I do not regret my action," Darby said in the video. 

The defense asked Vogal whether or not he believed Darby and the other officers were in imminent danger. Vogel said no. However, he did believe Parker was a danger to the officers. 

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