LOGAN — Defense attorney said woman’s death was a tragic end to her life, but not murder.
Opposing counsel gave opening statements to the newly empaneled jury as the trial begins for Jerry Godby, 64, of Chapmanville, who is charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife, Delores Godby, 61.
Boone County Prosecutor Keith Randolph was first to describe the events that led up to the victim’s death on May 17, 2011.
He told the story, much as it was outlined in the police report. The Godbys had a very good start to the day. They had gone to Southridge, then came home and settled in. They began drinking, which was confirmed later by blood tests. His blood alcohol level was .08 and hers was .14. She also had sedatives in her blood.
The couple began to argue, which was not uncommon for them. During their seven and a half month marriage, there had been domestic complaints to law enforcement. Delores listed as the aggressor as having done things to Mr. Godby like slap him, or grab and twist his arms.
The argument subsided and the couple settled down, each with a glass of wine. The arguing began again. As Mr. Godby sat in a recliner, there was a reflection of her behind him with a raised beer bottle.
Mr. Godby got up and pushed by her and went into a bedroom closet, where he retrieved a case unzipped it and took out a gun. She followed him as he walked through to the kitchen where he stopped and turned to point the gun at her. He told her to back off and she taunted him, waving the beer bottle and asking if he was going to shoot her. At that point, she received a single gunshot wound to her chest.
Counsel for the defense Brian Abraham used his opening statement to explain that in West Virginia you can “stand your ground” and use deadly force for self-defense. The law says deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened in the home. In West Virginia, if the defendant claims self defense, the prosecution has to prove it was not self defense. If it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then the person claiming self defense is not responsible for their actions.
Claims were made about Mrs. Godby’s mental state and her failing to take prescribed medication. Abraham went on to say during the brief but tumultuous marriage, Mr. Godby alleges he was beaten repeatedly. He said this time, Mr. Godby decided to stand his ground, but claims he is unsure whether the gun went off or he pulled the trigger.
Abraham told the jury Mr. Godby consistently told law enforcement it was self defense and did not change his story through several interviews. Despite the claim of self defense, Godby was arrested for malicious wounding and later charged with murder in the first degree after the victim died.
Witness testimony will begin on Wed. and Judge Roger Perry indicated the case may be concluded by the end of the week.