Godbolt trial begins Thursday

A monument in honor of the victims of the 2017 Memorial Day weekend deaths of eight people in Lincoln County is seen shortly after its unveiling in Bogue Chitto last October.

The Willie Cory Godbolt murder trial is expected to get started 9 a.m. Thursday in the Pike County courthouse at Magnolia with opening arguments from both sides.

Godbolt, 37, of Bogue Chitto will be tried on four counts of capital murder, four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of kidnapping and one count of armed robbery. He is accused of killing eight people in Lincoln County in May 2017.

Jury selection began Monday in Hernando and is expected to conclude today, said Beverly Pettigrew Kraft, Public Information Officer for the Administrative Office of Courts. Jurors will be bused to Pike County where they will be sequestered for the duration of the trial.

“Trial proceedings are expected to get underway at the Pike County Courthouse in Magnolia at 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, if there are no delays,” Kraft said.

The trial will be held in Pike rather than Lincoln County because Pike has a larger courtroom.

Victims in the Memorial Day weekend rampage included Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy William Durr, 36, Godbolt’s mother-in-law Barbara Mitchell, 55, her daughter Tocarra May, 35, and Mitchell’s sister Brenda May, 53, all of Bogue Chitto, Austin Edwards, 11, and his cousin, Jordan Blackwell, 18, and Ferral Burage, 45, and Sheila Burage, 46, all of Brookhaven.

The killings took place at three separate locations — Bogue Chitto, Coopertown Road and East Lincoln — starting around 11:30 p.m. May 27 and ending with Godbolt’s arrest at 7 the next morning.  

Godbolt is also accused of shooting at deputy Timothy Kees, kidnapping Xavier Lilly and Lapetra Safford, and taking a 2015 Kia at gunpoint from Henry and Alfred Bracey.

The District’s Attorney office has subpoenaed 90 witnesses. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks and run seven days a week.

Last year a memorial was unveiled in honor of the eight victims at the intersection of Highway 51 and Bogue Chitto Road.

Among witnesses subpoenaed are reporter Therese Apel, who recorded conversations with Godbolt after he had been handcuffed. His recorded statements included saying “I’m sorry” and noting he had planned to commit “suicide by cop.”

In a court hearing last year Judge David Strong ruled the tapes admissible.

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