The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 20, 2014

Jury hears 911 call made by Michael Palmer

CLARKSBURG — "My father-in-law just kicked in my door and I shot him.”

These were the first words said by Michael Palmer when he called 911 on the night of Dec. 11, 2011.

The full recording of that call was played for the jury Wednesday during Palmer’s first-degree murder trial.

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.

While giving his address to the 911 dispatcher, Palmer said that “I think he is dying” and that he “shot (Wilson) in the stomach.” The dispatcher asked Palmer if Wilson was still breathing.

“He’s breathing,” Palmer said. “He’s making a really terrible sound.”

Palmer went on to tell the dispatcher that he “didn’t have a choice” and that Ed Wilson “was trying to kill me.”

The dispatcher asked Palmer if he knew why Wilson kicked in the door. Palmer told the dispatcher that a dispute on Facebook led Wilson to call Palmer and leave a message. Palmer said he called him back and said Wilson told him he would “be there in 10 minutes” and that he would “blow (Palmer’s) (explicit) head off.”

The dispatcher told Palmer that emergency crews were on the way, and he replied, “Please hurry.”

The dispatcher asked Palmer where Wilson was located and Palmer told her that he was on the back porch and that he thought he “shot through the back door” but then realized he didn’t shoot through the door.

“He kicked in the door. I’m looking at the hole,” Palmer said in the recording.

The dispatcher asked Palmer what type of gun he used to shoot Wilson and Palmer said, “We have an AK-47.” The dispatcher asked where it was and Palmer said he was holding it.

“I don’t want to unload it,” Palmer told the dispatcher. “I don’t know what he’s holding in his hand.”

As the 911 call continued, Palmer said he put down the gun at the request of the dispatcher. Palmer was asked if Wilson had anything in his hands, and Palmer replied by saying that he “didn’t want to get that close to him” but that the object in his hand “looked like a knife.”

Almost five minutes into the conversation with the dispatcher, Palmer said Wilson’s breathing was getting slow. The dispatcher asked if anyone had been drinking alcohol.

“I had a beer,” Palmer said. “He is very intoxicated.”

The dispatcher asked Palmer if he would go outside and wait for law enforcement to get there. Palmer said he was “a little worried that (Wilson) might get up and come out. I don’t know what to do here.”

Palmer told the dispatcher that he fired the gun twice but believed that he shot Wilson only one time because one bullet was on the counter.

Toward the end of the recording, Palmer said, “I had to defend myself. I didn’t know what else to do here.” Palmer stayed on the phone until law enforcement arrived.

“My father-in-law is on the back porch,” Palmer said at the end of the recording.

The recorded call was the last phone message played for the jury Wednesday during the testimony of Detective Shawn Mathews of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

Other recordings that were played for the jury included a 911 call from Palmer on Nov. 19, 2011, about a month before the fatal shooting happened. In that recording, Palmer told the dispatcher that he wanted to report that Wilson was threatening to “blow my head off and kill me.”

In the recording, Palmer told the dispatcher that his “drunken father-in-law is threatening to kick in my door and blow my head off.” The dispatcher transferred Palmer to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

Palmer repeated what he told the 911 dispatcher to the sheriff’s department.

“I don’t believe he’s going to do it,” Palmer told the sheriff’s department. “I’m not trying to get the guy arrested or anything ... I’m not asking for trouble. I know the guy carries a gun.”

Mathews told the jury Wednesday that he retrieved a message from the Palmers’ answering machine that was left on Nov. 19, 2011, at 5:42 p.m. Mathews said the message was from Wilson.

In the message, Wilson told Palmer that if he “has something to say” then he should “come down to the house,” meaning Wilson’s house, which is located behind the Palmer residence.

During his testimony with Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Wilson, Mathews was asked what he did when he got to the scene on Dec. 11, 2011. Mathews said that once he arrived, he took over the investigation from Marion County sheriff’s deputy Tony Veltri.

Mathews said when he arrived, Veltri took him through a walkthrough around the scene. Mathews said he then started taking pictures and placing evidence tents throughout the scene.

Mathews told the jury that he returned to the scene after the fact because he found only one shell casing and was told by other officers that two shots had been fired. Mathews stated that Palmer was with him.

“(Palmer) indicated that two shots were fired and that he shot and killed Ed Wilson,” Mathews said.

Upon returning to the scene, Mathews said he found the other shell casing in the same room as the first one he found. Based on his measurements and layout of the house, Mathews told the jury, the second bullet, which was never recovered, would have had to have been outside the residence.

Mathews continued and told the jury that it’s impossible to shoot out the back door from the room where the first shot was fired from. Mathews then used an enlarged diagram of the house layout to show the trajectory of each bullet and where it would have had to come from.

Mathews said for the bullet to exit the back door, the shooter “must have been somewhere in the kitchen” and that the shooter would have had to step outside the computer room and forward.

Mathews’ testimony was cut short because of time Wednesday and will continue today.

Other witnesses testified Wednesday, including Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Don Wheeler. Wheeler testified that he was one of the first to respond to the shooting at the Baxter residence the night of Dec. 11, 2011.

Patrick Wilson asked where Michael and Kristyn Palmer were located when he arrived. Wheeler told the jury the Palmers were on the front porch of the residence, which faces Baxter Street.

“Michael was in handcuffs for officer safety,” Wheeler said.

Wilson asked Wheeler about Michael Palmer’s demeanor when he arrived on scene that night. Wheeler said Palmer was calm and showed “no emotion.”

During cross examination with defense attorney Sean Murphy, Wheeler was asked if he had gone inside the residence that night. Wheeler said he took Palmer into the front room of the house to search him and take items out of his pockets for officer safety.

Wheeler said he then took Palmer and placed him in the back seat of a sheriff’s cruiser.

After Wheeler was excused, Loretta Nester was called to the stand by the state. Nester is the mother of Ed Wilson’s 14-year-old grandson.

During her testimony with Patrick Wilson, Nester said Ed Wilson was his wife Linda’s only caregiver during her health issues. Patrick Wilson asked Nester if Michael or Kristyn Palmer ever helped take care of Linda during this time. Nester said no.

Nester said she visited Linda several times when she was ill and in the hospital.

Patrick Wilson asked Nester if she had ever been around Ed Wilson when he drank and, if so, what he was like. Nester said Wilson was “very friendly” when he drank and wouldn’t get aggressive.

Patrick Wilson asked Nester what Ed Wilson’s demeanor toward Michael and Kristyn Palmer was a month before his death. Nester told the jury that Wilson was “fed up” with the Palmers and that Wilson wanted his property and assets to go to his grandson.

Patrick Wilson asked Nester about Ed Wilson’s funeral and viewing. and if the Palmers where there. Nester said the funeral and viewing were held two weeks after Wilson’s death and that neither of the Palmers were there.

Continuing her testimony, Nester was asked if she had ever heard Michael Palmer say anything to Kristyn Palmer about Ed Wilson’s girlfriend, Debra Thompson, whom he dated after the death of his wife. Nester said she met Thompson in 2010 when Thompson was introduced to her as Wilson’s friend, and she heard Michael Palmer tell Kristyn Palmer, “There goes your inheritance.”

During cross examination with Murphy, Nester was asked if she knew if there were people in Rivesville who were mad at Michael Palmer and she said yes. Murphy then asked Nester if she knew of anyone threatening Palmer. She said no, but that it wouldn’t surprise her if someone was.

Called to the stand next by the state was Jason Antonk. Antonk said Ed Wilson was a friend of his family’s and that he knew Michael Palmer.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lea Ann Hawkins questioned Antonk about a four-wheeler he bought from Wilson. Antonk said he and Wilson agreed on a payment plan for the four-wheeler.

Hawkins asked Antonk if the Palmers’ communication with him changed after he bought the four-wheeler from Wilson. Antonk said Michael Palmer would drive by his house and “stick his finger out the window in the shape of a gun.”

Antonk continued to tell the jury that Palmer would yell vulgar things at him and his family.

Hawkins brought up a Facebook posting from another person’s page while questioning Antonk. He said the posting had been pointed out to him by his wife.

Antonk went on and said that he responded to the postings.

Hawkins asked Antonk about the conversations he has had with Palmer on Facebook and if he had communicated to Ed Wilson about what Palmer was saying on the social media site. Antonk said Wilson asked him to tell him what Palmer was saying on Facebook.

Hawkins asked Antonk about what he and Palmer were talking about on Facebook and he replied that Palmer was “running his mouth.”

Antonk said that on Dec. 10, 2011, the day before Wilson was shot to death, he called Wilson and told him “Mike was starting his (explicit) on Facebook again.”

Antonk said Wilson told him to tell Palmer “to shut up or (Wilson) would shut him up.” Antonk said during this phone conversation he had with Wilson, he knew Wilson was at the VFW in Fairmont.

Hawkins handed a copy of the Facebook conversation to the members of the jury for them to read.

During cross examination with Murphy, Antonk was asked if he felt responsible for the death of Ed Wilson.

“If you would have kept your mouth shut, (Wilson) wouldn’t have gone to Michael Palmer’s house?” Murphy asked Antonk.

Antonk responded by saying that Wilson asked him if Palmer was talking about him on the Internet.

“I don’t feel responsible,” Antonk told the jury. “(Wilson) asked me to relay him information.”

Kathy Carpenter was called to the stand by the state after Antonk was excused. Carpenter said she has lived in Rivesville for 59 years and knew Ed Wilson for 25 years.

Carpenter testified that she knew Wilson “wanted his grandson taken care of” and that he wanted his property and assets to go to him.

Patrick Wilson asked Carpenter what Ed Wilson’s attitude toward Kristyn Palmer was weeks before his death. Carpenter told the jury Wilson was “aggravated but still loved his daughter.”

The trial will continue today.

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

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