Man on trial for brother’s death

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 28, 2016

A 12-man, two-woman jury will decide this week whether a brother murdered his brother or if he killed him in self defense.

The jury heard opening arguments and a portion of testimony Wednesday afternoon in a case that stems from a June 2012 shooting at a Bass Bridge Road residence.



Clarence Alvin Norris is on trial for the murder of his brother, Cleve Wayne Norris, who was found dead inside a barn on the property from a gunshot wound to the chest with a .30-06

District Attorney Walt Merrell is prosecuting the case, while attorney Chris Sledge is representing Norris.

Both the state and the defense agree that Clarence Norris shot his brother, but the Sledge said in opening arguments that it was self-defense.

Merrell said that Clarence Norris did not work and that Cleve Norris helped provide for his needs.

Sledge said in opening arguments that Cleve swung at Clarence with a bush axe several times and that Clarence shot him in self defense.

“Cleve’s words were, ‘I’m going to kill you to get you off this property.’ ”

Sledge said that Clarence admittedly wasn’t forthcoming with law enforcement about what happened.

Several people testified Clarence told them different stories.

Merrell said in his opening arguments that eventually Norris admitted to shooting Cleve, but said then claimed it was in self-defense.

Sledge said that his client’s reasons in not being forthcoming were “dumb.”

Merrell challenged the jury to ask:

• Was the bush axe there the whole time?

• Did Cleve swing the bush axe at Clarence?

• Did he jab at him with it?

• Did Clarence shoot Cleve from where he said he did?

• Who was the aggressor?

Jurors heard a 911 recording from the day of the shooting in which a Norris neighbor called 911, but hung up. Dispatcher Elizabeth Sunday called the neighbor back, and learned that someone has been shot. She dispatched EMS and law enforcement.

In the 911 tape, jurors could hear a man in the background telling the caller what to say to the dispatcher.

Investigator Howard West testified he wasn’t the first deputy to the scene. Sgt. Larry Smith, who died last year in a motorcycle crash, arrived first, West said.

West testified that Smith secured the .30-06 in the barn. He also testified that he took the weapon to the Department of Forensics.

West testified that Cleve’s body was lying with his back on the step-up going into another room in the barn.

In photographs presented as evidence and taken by West, a bush axe is shown near Cleve’s body.

West testified that Drug Task Force Agent Greg Jackson took possession of Clarence’s boots and socks. West said that he marked them.

West also said they recovered his clothes, but didn’t send them to forensics.

He also testified that they bagged Clarence’s hands and swabbed them. Photographs showed that Clarence had blood on his fingertips.

Paramedic Eddie Rowell testified that based on his training, he knew that Cleve was dead on arrival, but tested his heart with a monitor. Rowell said he did not have any electrode activity in three different leads.

Rowell testified that he didn’t move Cleve, but did pull his shirt to put the bottom lead on.

Rowell also testified that he spoke to Clarence to give him his condolences, a practice he said he does often. He said that Clarence told him that Cleve should not have messed with him.

Coroner Norman Hobson testified that Clarence told him a different version of the story.

He said that when he got to the scene Sheriff Dennis Meeks told him that Cleve was inside and that he had a gunshot wound.

He went inside to determine it was Cleve.

Hobson said he asked Meeks if he could talk to Clarence about what happened.

Hobson testified that Clarence told him he was out in the garden and heard a gunshot, and said he thought his brother was shooting coyotes, and that he told him not to mess with that gun.

Hobson also said Clarence told him that he guessed the dog knocked the gun off the desk.

Hobson said he told the sheriff that he needed to get Clarence in the patrol car because a dog was licking the blood off his hands.

Investigator Wesley Snodgrass testified there were two sets of footprints in the garden — one with a visible tread and one that had no visible tread.

Snodgrass also testified that Clarence was determined to be a person of interest and was transported to the sheriff’s office. Snodgrass is expected to continue his testimony when court reconvenes at 9 today.

Merrell entered into evidence a video tape of the interview with Norris.