With prosecutors saying Floyd Kirby took dead aim with his shotgun and blasted Ken Murray from a fishing boat the state’s case in the attempted murder trial got underway Thursday.
“I was in fear for my life. That’s what happens when you’re looking down the business end of a shotgun,” testified Stan Owenby, who was fishing in the boat alongside the victim on Harvest Farms Lake when Kirby opened fire the morning of May 10, 2011.
Owenby said they had fished the whole lake and were floating in the back of Kirby’s house when the 76-year-old man yelled for them to get off his property. The defense maintains the property rights agreement on Harvest Farms Lake provides ownership of the portion of the lake near the residences of the homeowners.
Owenby said after hearing about six shots of what he believed to be Kirby shooting a pistol at the ground he then heard the blast of a shotgun, the pellets splashing near the boat.
“Stumpy (the victim) said he was calling the law,” Owenby said recalling the events. “His (Kirby’s) response was to shoot him out of the boat.”
Owenby said when his friend surfaced he realized he had been shot.
“I said ‘Stumpy you’ve been shot’,” Owenby testified, recalling the response he got from his injured friend. “He said ‘does this trawling motor have high on it’ because he was wanting to get out of there.”
Owenby said Kirby kept firing after he yelled out to tell him a shot had struck Murray.
“I told him he had shot the hell out of Stumpy,” Murray testified.
Alan Hughes, who heard the commotion from his house directly across the lake admitted he was horrified when he witnessed what happened.
“I was in disbelief,” Hughes said noting he could hear yelling and then saw Murray fall out of his boat as a shotgun blast sounded.
Hughes went on to say he heard some of the shot pellets fall in the trees next to his home.
“At that point I figured it was a good time to go inside,” Hughes testified.
The victim took the stand as the first day of the trial wound down Thursday telling jurors about his wounds to the shoulder, hand and stomach. Murray said he was airlifted from near the lake and had to undergo multiple surgeries.
Murray recalled hearing Kirby telling him to get off his land before he opened up with the shotgun. Murray noted it was not the first time Kirby had told him to get off his property and suggested Kirby had fired at other boaters on the lake.
In response defense attorney Tim Pirtle questioned why Murray would be behind Kirby’s house if he had been told to stay away in the past.
During opening arguments Pirtle referred to Murray as a “bully” saying he pushed people around in the neighborhood and did not thinking the rules applied to him.
The defense contends Kirby did not mean to shoot Murray but instead was firing at black birds in the trees to keep them away from his duck food. The defense maintains Kirby’s view was blocked by the heavy foliage between where he was standing and the lake.
Being a combat veteran, Pirtle said if Kirby had intended to kill the men he would have walked close to the lake bank and shot them instead of firing from 100 yards away.
“If he would have wanted to do that he could have walked to the water’s edge and - game over,” Pirtle told the jury saying his client could not see the men from where he was. “He could no more see them out there than a man on the moon.”
Prosecutor Randal Gilliam doubts the defense claim saying the testimony shows Kirby took aim on his victims before squeezing the trigger.
“Even after the man was in the water bleeding he kept firing,” Gilliam said in his opening statement.
The trial continues this morning at the Warren County Courthouse. Kirby faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted on the top charge of attempted murder.