The Times West Virginian

March 14, 2014

911 tape, brass knuckles discussed

Wilson described as a ‘good man’ during testimony at Palmer’s murder trial

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

CLARKSBURG — Brass knuckles and a 911 tape were just some of the pieces of evidence discussed Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer.

Palmer, of Baxter, was arrested in June 2012 and charged with the premeditated murder of his father-in-law, Everett “Ed” Wilson. Wilson was shot to death at the Baxter home of his daughter, Kristyn Palmer, and son-in-law, Michael Palmer, on Dec. 11, 2011.

To start the day Thursday, the state called to the stand John Brownlee, who lives across the street from the residence where Wilson was killed, and lived there during the night of the shooting. Brownlee said he was home Dec. 11, 2011, and called 911 after hearing two gunshots.

The state played the recording of Brownlee and the 911 operator’s conversation from that night. In the recording, Brownlee stated that “there has been shots fired” from the “white house across the street from me.”

Brownlee was asked by Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Wilson to identify the house where he believed the gunshots came from. Brownlee looked at the picture and stated it was the white house and indicated that was the Palmer residence.

Wilson asked Brownlee about his relationship with Kristyn and Michael Palmer. Brownlee told the jury he had met Kristyn Palmer through Ed Wilson. Brownlee said he did not know Kristyn or Michael Palmer well.

Patrick Wilson asked Brownlee about his relationship with Ed Wilson. Brownlee said that “Ed (Wilson) was a good man” and that Wilson was a good friend of his.

Brownlee was asked by the state if he had any knowledge of Ed Wilson owning brass knuckles. Brownlee said he “never saw” Ed Wilson with brass knuckles.

Brownlee testified Thursday that he was inside his home across the street from the Palmer residence when he heard two gunshots. Brownlee said he was playing a football video game on a PlayStation 3 when he heard the gunshots.

Before he heard gunshots, Brownlee said he had heard Ed Wilson drive his truck on the gravel driveway as he normally does. The only difference was the truck’s headlights were shining toward Brownlee’s house, according to his testimony.

“The headlights usually disappear behind the Palmer house,” Brownlee told the jury.

Brownlee also told the jury that he didn’t hear any pounding on a door or wall or shouting of any kind before he heard the gunshots. Brownlee said the area where he lives is “a quiet neighborhood.”

Brownlee said after he called 911 he went outside on his front porch, which faces the Palmer residence. He told the jury he saw A.J. Titchener, who lives to the left of the Palmer residence, on his back porch.

During the cross examination by defense attorney Sean Murphy, Brownlee said that when he came to his front porch that night and saw Titchener, he heard him say, “Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

When Brownlee was on his front porch that night, he said he heard Michael Palmer say, “This is none of you (explicit) business. Get back in your (explicit) house.”

During Brownlee’s testimony, Patrick Wilson asked Brownlee if he had ever seen Ed Wilson help his children, Kristyn Palmer and Dustin Wilson, in terms of support. Brownlee said he had seen Ed Wilson help Dustin Wilson move into an apartment in Rivesville. Brownlee also testified that he had seen Ed Wilson mow the grass at the Palmer residence.

During the cross examination, Murphy asked Brownlee why he didn’t call 911 immediately after hearing gunshots. Brownlee had testified earlier Thursday that he called 911 three to five minutes after hearing gunshots.

“It wasn’t until I started noticing things, such as the truck sitting there — I didn’t know whose truck it was. I didn’t know anything that was going on at that point,” Brownlee told the jury.

Brownlee had testified earlier Thursday that when he was outside on his porch he saw Kristyn Palmer come out of the basement door of the residence. After the cross examination was complete, Patrick Wilson asked Brownlee what Kristyn Palmer was doing after he had heard the gunshots and saw her exit the house.

Brownlee told the jury that Kristyn Palmer was walking up and down Baxter Street, looking for her dog.

In his statement to officers the night of Dec. 11, 2011, Brownlee said he had spoken to Kristyn Palmer after the shooting occurred. Patrick Wilson asked Brownlee Thursday what Kristyn Palmer’s demeanor was when she was looking for her dog and what she said to him. Brownlee told the jury Kristyn Palmer had “no emotion” and said that “Mike just shot my dad.”

Also called to the stand Thursday was Nabila Haikal, first deputy chief medical examiner with the Office of the West Virginia State Medical Examiner.

Haikal told the jury that it’s her job to document any injuries a body has when she examines it. She said when she examined Ed Wilson’s body after his death, the body had injuries to the torso and limbs.

Haikal said Ed Wilson’s cause of death was a gunshot wound in the abdomen and was classified as a homicide. She also told the jury that Ed Wilson didn’t die immediately after being shot but would have minutes after the bullet went through his body from left to right with a slight incline.

During Haikal’s testimony with the state, Patrick Wilson brought forth the pair of brass knuckles that were found in the right hand of Ed Wilson on the night of his death. Patrick Wilson questioned Haikal about the injuries to Ed Wilson’s right-hand knuckles, which she said had bruises and scrapes on them.

After putting on a latex glove, Patrick Wilson put on the brass knuckles and asked Haikal if someone who was wearing brass knuckles could sustain an injury to their knuckles if they were using the brass knuckles. She said if someone were wearing and using the brass knuckles, they would protect the person’s knuckles.

Wilson asked Haikal what would cause bruising and scrapes on Ed Wilson’s knuckles. She told the jury that in her findings, a blunt force caused the bruises on Ed Wilson’s right knuckles and friction with a blunt object caused the scrapes.

During the cross examination with Murphy, Haikal was asked about Ed Wilson’s blood alcohol level. Haikal testified that although she does not perform the blood test, Ed Wilson’s blood alcohol level from Dec. 11, 2011, was 0.21. Murphy asked Haikal what influence that would have on a person. She told the jury that a blood alcohol level of 0.21 is a significant level of alcohol and that each person is affected differently by alcohol. Haikal said alcohol is a sedating depressant and that it affects a person’s judgment. She said it could also cause aggression in some people.

Three other witnesses testified Thursday. Those witnesses were at the VFW Post 29 in Fairmont on Dec. 11, 2011. All three testified that each saw Ed Wilson at the VFW Post that night.

One of those witnesses, Donna Synder, who was the bartender at the VFW Post that night, told the jury Ed Wilson was “having a good time” and in a “good mood” the night of Dec. 11, 2011. Synder testified that Wilson came to the VFW Post often.

Synder said when Ed Wilson was at the VFW Post prior to Dec. 11, 2011, he would receive phone calls on his cellphone and sometimes become upset after the calls. She said she would sometimes have to calm him down when he would use profanity because it was against the VFW Post policy about profanity.

On Dec. 11, 2011, Synder testified that after Ed Wilson received a phone call, he got upset and left but did not act out or be aggressive toward anyone or anything.

The trial will continue today.

Email Emily Gallagher at or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.