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Jury finds second defendant in Cape County shooting case guilty

Friday, August 3, 2012

Seth Summers
The jury in a two-day trial for Seth Summers, the Cape Girardeau man accused of being an accomplice to first-degree assault in the August 2011 shooting near Neelys Landing, found a recorded conversation between Summers and his father to be damning evidence.

Summers, 32, called his father from the county jail hours after the incident. In the call, Summers told his father he got involved with the wrong person and his father later asked if he killed anyone. Summers paused before answering, "I don't think so."

"We listened to the pause," jury foreman David Ray said. "If we are asked, 'Did you kill somebody?' we're not going to pause."

On Thursday afternoon, after deliberating a little more than an hour, jurors came back with guilty verdicts on a charge of first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

Summers was charged as an accomplice in the shooting of Joshua Abernathie during the early morning hours of Aug. 28 following a night of heavy drinking.

Abernathie, who lost his left eye in the shooting, testified Wednesday that he was out along a rural gravel road with Summers and Jimmy Ray Bell about 2 a.m. Summers walked past him on his right, said, "Let's do this," then grabbed Abernathie's right arm and crotch, Abernathie said. Abernathie flailed his arms to get free and Summers sprayed him in the face with Mace or bug spray, he said. Abernathie covered his face with his hands, then heard a pop, saw a flash to his left and felt something strike his head, he said. He fled from the men, then found a farmhouse, where he pounded on the door and screamed for help, Abernathie said. Emergency room doctors said the bullet traveled through Abernathie's face and lodged in his right cheekbone, where it remains.

In June, a jury convicted Bell in the case. Circuit Court Judge William Syler sentenced him to 50 years in prison Monday.

Summers' trial started Wednesday. As testimony for the prosecution proceeded, Summers' attorney, Al Lowes, said detectives mishandled the case. Lowes began his defense Thursday morning, calling Bell to the stand.

Lowes argued that, having had three major back surgeries, Summers was too fragile to be involved in a physical confrontation. Lowes called Summers to the stand, and later made him take off his jacket and pull up his shirt to show jurors his scars.

'The wrong person'

Lowes portrayed Bell as the mastermind behind the men's activities, though he said much of what they did was innocent. He maintained that the shooting was accidental. But he also said Bell was responsible for evidence that police saw as sinister, such as the men taking duct tape, a plastic drop cloth, surgical gloves and bleach when they went out that night.

"If anybody planned anything, the person who did all this planning was Jimmy Ray Bell," Lowes argued in closing statements. "This was Jimmy Bell's idea. This young man took up with the wrong person."

Cape Girardeau County assistant prosecutor Jack Koester argued that text messages between Summers and Bell discuss who was going to spray Mace in Abernathie's face.

"This was a horrible and senseless act of violence, and it was clearly no accident," Koester said. "I'm glad the jury was able to use their common sense."

Sentencing is set for Sept. 17 before Judge William Syler.



Pertinent address:

100 Court St., Jackson, MO

Neelys Landing, MO

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Interesting how this is front page of the paper today, and a teenager was shot to death in Jackson city park over the weekend, and this paper still hasn't reported it.

-- Posted by heye1967 on Fri, Aug 3, 2012, at 12:59 PM

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