The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 12, 2014

Prosecutor: Palmer seized ‘opportunity to strike’

Jury in murder case views crime scene and hears opening statements

CLARKSBURG — Opening statements in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer were given Tuesday on the second day of the trial.

Marion Circuit Judge Michael John Aloi told the jury, which was selected Monday, that the opening statements from both Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Wilson and defense attorney Sean Murphy are not evidence in the case. Aloi said opening statements are each side’s view of the case and an outline for the jury to better understand their case.

Michael 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.

In his opening statement, Patrick Wilson started with a direct quote from Michael Palmer: “I don’t make meaningless threats. I have a mental list of folks that did my wife and I wrong, and I patiently and meticulously wait for the moment to strike those who made the list.”

He said Palmer made the comment in 2011, a couple months before Ed Wilson’s death.

Patrick Wilson went on with his statement and said that “Palmer seized his opportunity to strike” on the night of Dec. 11, 2011. He said Palmer “intentionally, premeditatively, maliciously shot and killed Ed Wilson” that night.

Patrick Wilson explained to the jury that Ed Wilson was shot at the doorstep of his own house, which he was letting his daughter Kristyn and her husband Michael Palmer live in rent free.

“The evidence will be clear that it is not a justified, self-defense case,” Patrick Wilson told the jury.

Patrick Wilson said Ed Wilson accumulated a lot of assets over his 62 years of living, including several homes, vehicles and other assets. Patrick Wilson said Michael Palmer’s animosity toward his father-in-law grew when he would not sign the deed to the house Michael and Kristyn were living in.

Also during his statement, Patrick Wilson talked about the kind of person Ed Wilson was, including being a Vietnam veteran. Patrick Wilson also discussed the several medical conditions Ed Wilson had, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an enlarged heart, coronary artery disease, lung disease and high blood pressure.

Taking care of his friends and family financially, including his two children, Dustin and Kristyn, was another characteristic Ed Wilson had, according to Patrick Wilson. Patrick Wilson said Ed Wilson had a girlfriend after his wife of many years passed away, and he began spending and giving a lot of money to her. According to Patrick Wilson, this caused Palmer’s animosity toward Ed Wilson to grew even more.

Patrick Wilson said when Michael Palmer started seeing Ed Wilson’s daughter Kristyn, Ed Wilson didn’t give as much help financially or in materials to the two as he did to his son Dustin who, according to Patrick Wilson, was a problem child.

“Michael Palmer resented Dustin and what Ed was giving to Dustin,” Wilson told the jury.

Patrick Wilson said on the night of Dec. 11, 2011, Ed Wilson and Palmer were discussing something about things being said on Facebook by Palmer about Ed Wilson over the phone. Patrick Wilson said after the phone call ended, Ed Wilson drove to the Baxter residence, but didn’t shout or kick in the door when he got there. Within 30 seconds of Ed Wilson’s arrival at the house, two gunshots had been fired.

One gunshot went into the counter, and one killed Ed Wilson.

“Ed Wilson should be here today and I shouldn’t be,” Patrick Wilson told the jury in a Harrison County courtroom.

When defense attorney Sean Murphy gave his opening statement, he agreed that Ed Wilson was the type of man who would “give the shirt off his back” to anyone.

Murphy also talked about Wilson’s relationship with a woman after his wife passed away. Murphy said thousands of dollars were given to this woman to pay for bills and even a new house. He said because of Wilson’s generosity, he would get in trouble.

Murphy said Wilson felt like he wasn’t respected.

“As the state told you, Ed had a reputation to fulfill and had a reputation to be respected,” Murphy told the jury. “But he was giving his all to this woman.”

Talking about Wilson’s medical condition, Murphy explained that Wilson was being prescribed anti-psychotic medication and had talked to his therapist about outbursts, road rage and confronting people. Murphy said Wilson had anger problems, began drinking and that his life was “spiraling out of control.”

“(Wilson) was a good man who did bad things,” Murphy told the jury.

Both the defense and the state agreed that when Wilson drove to the Baxter residence the night he was killed, his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

Murphy went on with his opening statement and said that after having the phone conversation with Palmer the night of Dec. 11, 2011, Wilson was in a rage.

“I don’t care about who says anything about pushing people’s buttons,” Murphy told the jury. “You can push all the buttons you want; nobody has the right to invade a man’s home.”

Murphy said in his statement that Wilson entered the house “with the intent to do bodily injury.” He said Wilson kicked the back door of the residence in and that he had brass knuckles in his hand.

“The only conclusion here that can be reached is Mr. Wilson got so angry that he could not control himself, that he kicked the door in,” Murphy told the jury. “Mr. Palmer exercised his legal right to self-defense.”

After the opening statements were given by both sides of the case, the state called its first witness to the stand. Tony Veltri, a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, was first on scene the night of the shooting.

Because he was first on scene that night, Patrick Wilson asked Veltri what Palmer’s demeanor was when he arrived on scene.

“I was really surprised,” Veltri said. “Mr. Palmer was carefree, as if nothing had happened.”

During his testimony Tuesday, Veltri was shown 27 pieces of evidence presented by the state, including several photographs of the scene and clothing from the night of the shooting.

Veltri said during his testimony that the door near where Ed Wilson was found dead with one gunshot wound had damage in the lower right corner. He said that in his more than a decade of experience as a law-enforcement officer, he had “never seen a door kicked at the bottom” and that the damage to the door “appeared to be old.”

“If it was a fresh kick ... there would be splinters,” Veltri said.

The jury was able to see firsthand where the incident happened during Tuesday’s jury view. The jury was taken to Baxter to view the home and property of Ed Wilson’s home and the location where he was found dead.

This was the first time in almost two years Palmer had seen his home since being arrested in 2012.

Testimony will continue today.

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

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