Trial starts for man accused of shooting near Neelys Landing

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The trial began Wednesday for the Cape Girardeau man accused of taking another man into a rural part of Cape Girardeau County and shooting him.

Authorities said Jimmy Ray Bell shot Joshua Abernathie in the left temple with a .22-caliber revolver early the morning of Aug. 28. Doctors couldn't remove all the bullet fragments, and the shooting caused Abernathie to lose his left eye, Abernathie said in court Wednesday.

Abernathie is serving three years in jail after stealing a cement truck in Cape Girardeau. He was sentenced in May.

Cape Girardeau County assistant prosecutor Jack Koester said Bell not only shot Abernathie in the face but also kept shooting at him while Abernathie fled into the woods.

Abernathie said he, Bell and Seth Summers had gotten together to "hang out." The men were driving around in a four-door Chevrolet Lumina and drinking, and stopped near Neelys Landing, where they got out of the car and continued to drink, Abernathie said.

Between 2 and 3 a.m., Summers grabbed Abernathie from behind and said, "We're doing this," Abernathie. Then Summers sprayed Abernathie in the face with Mace or bug killer, Abernathie said.

"I seen a flash and heard a pow and something hit me in the head," Abernathie said. "I got scared and started cussing and took off running."

Abernathie, who had been wearing a ball cap and black sleeveless T-shirt, said he heard five more shots as he ran. He fled to nearby woods and hid from Summers and Bell. Abernathie dropped the cap, which kept falling into his eyes.

"I took the wife-beater off and wiped the blood out of my eyes with it," he said.

Abernathie said he saw a street light and fled to a nearby home, where he pounded on the door and screamed for help.

The homeowner testified Wednesday that he went to an upstairs door and looked out. He saw Abernathie "covered in blood" and called 911.

"A couple of his friends tried to kill him," the homeowner said. The maroon Lumina containing Abernathie's alleged assailants drove by slowly, the homeowner said.

While the homeowner was on the phone with dispatchers, officers stopped the car and arrested the men inside.

An ambulance transported Abernathie to Saint Francis Medical Center, where a CT scan determined he still had a bullet wedged in the back of his right cheekbone. Doctors determined it was unsafe to try to remove it.

Koester said the crime had been premeditated and that Summers and Bell intended to kill the victim. Investigators found latex gloves, bleach and two changes of clothes in Summers' car, as well as texts between Summers and Bell about the assault, Koester said.

Defense attorney Chris Davis said police had their minds set early on in the investigation that the shooting was no accident, and looked to pin the crime on his client.

"They had absolutely no motivation whatsoever to commit this crime," Davis said of Bell and Summers, who is also accused in the shooting. Summers is scheduled for trial Aug. 1.

Bell's trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in the Common Pleas Courthouse in Cape Girardeau.

jgamm@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

44 N. Lorimier St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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