Brother’s fate in hands of grand jury

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Carolina man still maintains it was self-defense that led to the shooting death of his brother last June; however, following the case’s preliminary hearing Wednesday, his fate now rests in the hands of the grand jury.

Clarence Alvin Norris, 51, is charged with one count of murder. He was arrested after officers received a 911 call of shots fired at the men’s Bass Bridge Road home. When deputies arrived, they found his brother, 50-year-old Cleve Wayne Norris, inside a barn on the property, dead from a gunshot wound.

District Attorney Walt Merrell presented two witnesses – Covington County Sheriff’s deputy Lamar Smith and investigator Howard West.

Smith, who was the first officer on the scene, testified he found the gun – a .30-06 rifle – lying on the ground, saw the victim’s body and placed the gun in police custody.

He said Norris was calm and collected when law enforcement arrived.

West, the lead investigator on the case, testified that Norris gave at least five conflicting stories about his brother’s death.

One of them was that his brother threatened him and came at him with a bush axe.

The axe was found near the body; however, Merrell said autopsy results confirmed the victim, who also suffered from a degenerative muscle disease, died from a “slight contact wound,” and that the layout and size of the barn discredited Norris’ claim.

“The physical evidence doesn’t support that, does it?” Merrell asked, and West said, “No.”

Norris’ attorney, ChaLea Tisdale, disagreed, and Norris shook his head in disagreement at West’s testimony.

“Isn’t it true that Mr. Norris made a comment that (his brother) had hit him with a truck intentionally and pulled a gun on him before, and that he was concerned for his brother?” Tidsale asked. Norris nodded as Tisdale continued.

“Didn’t (Mr. Norris) say that he didn’t tell about the axe because he didn’t want people to know his brother did that?” she asked. “Isn’t it possible that it happened (the way Norris described)?”

To which West answered, “Yes.”

At the end of the hearing, Judge Trippy McGuire denied a request to reduce Norris’ bond and stated there was enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury.

Norris remains in the Covington County Jail under a $500,000 bond.