BROOKHAVEN, Miss. (AP) — Jurors will be allowed to hear what a Mississippi man told a reporter on video as he was arrested in the shooting deaths of eight people.
A judge ruled that Willie Cory Godbolt’s statements — including saying “I’m sorry” that a deputy was killed — will be admissible at his trial in February, the Daily Leader reported.
Godbolt, now 37, is charged with killing the deputy, his own mother-in-law and six others at three houses in May 2017.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of capital murder, four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery, and has been held without bail since his arrest hours after the killings.
Attorneys in the Office of State Public Defender unsuccessfully asked Lincoln County Circuit Judge David Strong to exclude some of the prosecution’s evidence, such as reporter Therese Apel’s cellphone video. At least some of her videos were published on the Clarion Ledger’s website when she was working at the newspaper.
During a hearing Thursday, Strong ruled that Godbolt willingly spoke to Apel, who twice identified herself to him as a journalist.
Over 30 minutes on May 28, 2017, Apel recorded 10 videos, some with conversations between her and Godbolt while he was sitting on a road with his hands cuffed behind his back as law enforcement officers stood nearby. In one, Godbolt asked her “You the policeman?” She responded, “I’m the media.” Godbolt told her he planned to die by “suicide by cop.” Prosecutors said they want to use all 10 videos as evidence.
Some background conversation is inaudible, but Apel testified Wednesday that she heard Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Master Sgt. Damian Gatlin, now McComb’s police chief, read Godbolt his rights. However, Apel said “he talked through the whole thing.” Gatlin and four other officers testified that Gatlin read Godbolt his rights.
Investigators say that on May 27, 2017, Godbolt went to his in-laws’ home in Bogue Chitto to confront his estranged wife and demand she give up their two children. Authorities said he began shooting after a standoff with Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy William Durr, 36. Those killed at that house were Godbolt’s mother-in-law, Durr and two others. Godbolt then went to two other homes, killing two of his teenage cousins and a husband and wife, investigators said.
On a video shot by Apel, Godbolt talked about Durr: “He was just there. We was talking about me taking my children and her sister and auntie called the police. I was having a conversation with her stepdaddy and her mama and her, my wife, about me taking my children home. And somebody called the officer. People that didn’t even live at the house, ’cause that’s what they do, they intervene. That cost him his life. I’m sorry.”
Lincoln County is in southwestern Mississippi. Jurors will be chosen from DeSoto County, which is about 250 miles (402 kilometers) to the north, and will be brought to Lincoln County.