By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Return of jury trials creates hectic schedule
Wesley Lex Leverett 2.jpg
Wesley Lex Leverett

A murder trial that’s been delayed for years is docketed to be heard next month as jury trials resume at Warren County Courthouse.

A whole week has been set aside, from Monday, Aug. 2 to Friday, Aug. 6, for the murder trial of Wesley “Lex” Leverett, who was 25 at the time he allegedly killed military veteran Barry Cole more than four years ago in February 2017. 

Cole’s body was discovered inside an outbuilding that served as a tiny home he rented on Morford Street across from Super Rama.

Three jury trials have been held locally since the state relaxed its COVID restrictions. The first two were one-day jury trials and both resulted in guilty verdicts.

The third jury trial was held last week, a three-day trial that resulted in a guilty verdict against Lorenzo Brown for shooting a man.

“We’re back in business,” said Circuit Court Clerk Casi Cantrell. “We have a full schedule of trials coming up.”

There are currently 11 jury trials scheduled for August, although some of those are sure to be moved to other dates because they are overlapping.

In the criminal homicide case against Leverett, the defense filed a motion on June 9 to delay the trial yet again because Leverett is scheduled to have a dental procedure July 26. That motion was denied.

Asked if he could see any reason for the trial to be postponed from its Aug. 2 start date, defense attorney Joshua T. Crain said, “Not that I can see at this point. We’re ready to try the case and see what the jury decides.”

Under current COVID guidelines, court officials, the jury, and any court spectators are supposed to remain three feet apart. Jurors are spaced that far in the jury box, but maintaining that distance can be a problem during jury selection.

Jury selection is expected to be held at Park Theater for the Leverett case to ensure the three-foot distance is not compromised. The trial will be held at Warren County Courthouse. 

Leverett reportedly confessed to police that he killed Cole after Cole made a comment about Leverett’s mother as the two were hanging out across from Super Rama.

“Leverett told the victim he thought someone was at the back door and when he turned around he stabbed him in the back,” McMinnville police investigator Todd Rowland testified during preliminary hearing in March 2017.

The defense has argued that confession should not be admissible at trial because Leverett reportedly did not understand his rights.

Leverett has been out on bond since August 2020 when Judge Bart Stanley reduced his bond from $1 million to $30,000, citing the over three years he had served in jail without being convicted of a crime.