Warren County will have its first murder trial in nearly four years when Wesley “Lex” Leverett is put before a jury of his peers beginning Monday.
A week has been set aside for the trial.
Leverett was 25 when he is accused of killing his friend Barry Cole in early 2017. Leverett reportedly confessed to the crime during an interview with investigators, saying he stabbed Cole in the back as the two were hanging out in an outbuilding that served as a small home across from Super Rama in downtown McMinnville.
The defense tried to get that confession thrown out, saying Leverett was confused about his rights when he provided that information. However, Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley ruled the confession is admissible and an Appeals Court upheld his ruling.
“I feel we can present the facts of this case to a jury so it can be easily understood,” said District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis. “We feel confident with our case and the evidence we have in place, but it’s always up to a jury to decide.”
Zavogiannis and Randal Gilliam will be leading the prosecution’s case. Leverett has retained defense attorney Joshua Crain.
Monday is expected to be consumed largely with jury selection. Zavogiannis said she expects jury selection to be slightly longer because potential jurors will be split into two pools to help with social distancing.
The last murder trial held in McMinnville began in late October of 2017 with jurors finding Bryan Cooke guilty on Nov. 2, 2017 of killing his in-laws, Gary and Gail Dodson.