Attorneys give opening statements in triple murder trial

Courtney Williams (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)
Courtney Williams (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Both sides gave their opening statements Tuesday morning in the triple murder trial of a man accused of killing his former girlfriend and two other women.

Courtney Williams, 23, of Baton Rouge, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Clarisa Cobbing, 19; Josephine Lathers, 76; and Brittany Lee, 18. Investigators said Cobbing was the suspect's ex-girlfriend. Williams is also charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Opening statements in the trial began around 10 a.m. Prosecutor Dana Cummings told the jury Williams walked past three people sitting on the front porch in broad daylight with a gun in his hand to shoot three people. He allegedly first killed Brittany Lee, who was sleeping on a couch, according to Cummings. She said he next turned his gun on Clarisa Cobbing and then Lee's grandmother, Josephine Lathers.

"Williams was immediately identified by several witnesses," said Cummings. "He also shot Eric Dozier in the leg as he ran away from the scene."

Cummings added six shell casings were found at the scene and all were determined to have been fired from the same weapon. Cummings told jurors they would hear from experts as to the cause of the deaths and eyewitness testimony that put Williams in the house on September 10, 2011.

Defense attorney Kayla Romanach started her opening statements by stating there is no physical evidence linking Williams to the scene. She also argued that since September 10, 2011 was home openers the LSU Tigers football team and the Southern University Jaguars football team, traffic would have prohibited Williams from getting from his home in Port Allen to the crime scene.

"There is no DNA, no physical evidence that ties Courtney to this crime," argued Romanach. "Courtney was a very easy target after the shootings on September 10."

A jury was seated Monday. It is made up of eight men and four women.

The Baton Rouge Police Department reported the shooting happened in the 1000 block of Progress Street in north Baton Rouge.

Prosecutors said the death penalty was taken off the table after mental health experts determined Williams is mildly retarded.

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