The murder trial of Larry Whaley is set to begin with opening statements Tuesday morning in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Whaley is charged with second-degree murder, accused of fatally shooting 19-year-old Samantha Teeter on December 2, 2016. Authorities say Teeter was shot in the head in the hallway of an apartment building, dying two days later. Whaley had previously been charged with first-degree murder, but that was amended last month to second-degree. Opening statements are expected to begin at 10:00 am ET/9:00 am CT.
According to police, there was a bullet hole in the wall across from Whaley’s apartment, and a revolver with three used rounds and two live rounds under Whaley’s couch. When officers first responded to the scene, they found Whaley talking to himself, saying what sounded like, “They were trying to break in,” police papers said.
A judge declared last month that Whaley is competent to stand trial, after the defendant had repeatedly claimed that his rights were being violated and that prosecutors were withholding evidence. At his first court appearance, Whaley took issue with the first degree murder charge, saying “it wasn’t intentional.” His legal team plan to argue at trial that Whaley acted in self-defense.
In March, Whaley wrote a letter to the judge saying that he thought two people he knew were going to break into his home, so he fired a gun into the door, Teeter’s death being an accident. In another letter the next month, Whaley wrote, “”It might not be self defence [sic], but it sure ain’t first degree murder,” and “I had no intention of shooting anybody, I just meant to scare them off.”
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