Testimony began before lunch Tuesday in the capital murder trial of Ronald Husband, the man accused of killing two Wiggins police officers in November 2005. The trial is being held in Meridian after the defense received a change of venue to avoid publicity.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Schmidt laid out the state's case to the jury. Schmidt took jurors through the night of November 27th 2005, when they say Ronald Husband followed Frances Arnold home from Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg and attacked her. It was Frances Arnold's 911 call that brought
Wiggins police officers Brandon Breland and Odell Fite to the Arnold home.
Wiggins Chief Buddy Bell took the stand this morning. He testified the officers would have been clearly identified as police when they arrived. The prosecution played the 911 recordings from that night and heard from dispatcher Jennifer Harris. Harris testified she took a 911 call from the Arnold residence, but that call was cut off. Harris testified she called back and could tell somone picked up the line. Harris said she recognized Frances Arnold's voice and heard arguing and a struggle. As jurors listened to the tape, they coiuld hear Arnold arguing with a man, accusing him of assaulting her. A struggle could also be heard.
The 911 tape also picked up sounds of Officers Fite and Breland arriving at the home. Again, the jury heard the sounds of a struggle and heavy breathing. Disptacher Harris testified when she heard the sounds of more struggling, she called for backup from the Stone County Sheriff's Department. Harris then began calling for the Wiggins officers to acknowlege her and tell her they were okay. She got no response from Fite or Breland. Dispatch logs entered into evidence show Stone County deputites arrived nine minutes after the Wiggins officers. Dispatcher Harris says a deputy then alerted her "officers down."
Investigators say Ronald Husband somehow got one of the officer's guns away from them and shot them. Prosecutors say Husband had been at Forrest General Hospital that night with France Arnold to see her husband. Hospital security cameras showed Husband there that night according to prosecutors who say Husband is seen wearing a ball cap, chain and sunglasses. Investigators say they found all of those items later at the crime scene.
The opening arguments from Ronald Husband's defense explained to the jurors they would hear inconsistancies in Frances Arnold's story. He also alleged investigators mishandled evidence. The defense also told the jury that the prosecution would have to prove the officers deaths were a willful act of murder in order for Husband to be found guilty of a capital crime. Capital murder carries the death penalty.
The jury is being sequestered during the trial to keep them from hearing anything that might influence the case.
The jury is made up of nine women, three men and three alternates.