[Watch live coverage of the trial on the Law&Crime Network in the player above when court begins.]
The trial of a Florida man who dressed in camouflage, grabbed his 9mm pistol, and went on a commando-style shooting spree which ultimately left two of his neighbors dead and one seriously injured is scheduled to begin with opening statements today. William “Billy” Woodward, the defendant, faces the death penalty. A police report described the defendant as “stealthily crawl[ing]” to his neighbor’s property, where he shot Roger Picior in the chest, Bruce Blake several times in the abdomen, and Gary Hembree several times in the chest and in the head. Then, police say Woodward went back and shot Picior and Hembree in the heads again. He finally returned to his own property and waited for police to arrive, the police report says.
During a police interview, Woodward said he was going to shoot Blake in the head as well, but ran out of ammo. “He referred to the incident as a ‘mission’ and that he was in a ‘war zone,'” the police report states further. He and his neighbors appear to have been embroiled in a feud for sometime. The defendant said after the shooting that he considered the incident finished, unless the survivors came back over to “wage war” on him again.
At a pretrial hearing, a judge denied Woodward’s attempt to use Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” defense to justify his actions as a matter of law — in other words, it’s not clear-cut, and a jury needs to weigh the issue. The court called an initial pool of approximately 200 jurors to hear the dispute. Jury selection took about a week, but was slower than usual because the jury needed to be death-penalty certified.
Woodward faces two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of first-degree attempted murder.