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|Outburst by victim's mother causes stir in courtroom|
Graphic images shown in court Tuesday of the body of Matthew Whittington lying a pool of blood disrupted proceedings when his mother rose from her front row seat and shouted at his accused killer -- 16-year-old Connor Wood.
Judy Whittington's outburst resulted in a quick exit of the jury and immediate efforts by Judge Leo Boothe to restore calm in the courtroom.
Connor Wood stands accused of the second degree murders of his parents -- John and Jeri Wood -- and the 16-year-old Whittington. The two boys had been longtime friends.
Deputy Jack Fletcher was on the stand discussing a series of pictures taken of the crime scene displayed on a screen for the jury and those in the courtroom, the first time such a procedure has been used in a criminal trial in Concordia Parish.
When pictures of Whittington shown face down in blood appeared on the screen, Judy Whittington began sobbing and her bottom lip was quivered.
When a more graphic photos of Whittington's face displayed, Judy Whittington stood up and screamed at Wood, "You son of a bitch. You bastard."
Whittington's family went to her side to calm her, along with law enforcement officials.
Boothe had the jurors taken out of the courtroom as Whittington continued her tirade. "God will judge him," she shouted. "God will judge him."
As Wood was being removed from the courtroom, Judy Whittington screamed, "I'm going to kill him. I'm going to kill him."
Whittington continued to resist those attempting to calm her and remove her from the courtroom.
"Judge Leo Boothe, I will behave," Whittington said as she sat down, but continued to shake.
"The court is very understanding and cognizant of your situation, but we are going to have to have you taken out because we cannot risk this happening again and preventing us from having a fair trial," said Boothe.
After Whittington walked out, Wood's lawyer, Paul Lemke asked for a mistrial.
Lemke also alluded to the threat, which was made off the record.
First Asst. Dist. Atty. Brad Burget noted that during the trial Jason Short in the Richard Cupstid murder case two years that there were outbursts, but that the proceedings continued.
Boothe said jurors missed most of the outburst and knew it came from the mother of a victim. He called the jurors back in and asked if the incident would affect their verdict.
An alternate juror said she could not give a fair verdict, stating she had an 15-year-old of her own. She was excused and the trial continued with one alternate.
Fletcher continued his testimony and before graphic images of Wood's parents were shown Burget alerted Boothe, who asked if anyone needed to be excused before they were shown.
No one left and the images of the Woods were shown, who suffered 13 bullet wounds. One photo depicted John Wood's leg out protruding from under the sheet onto the floor. Photos also depicted blood spatterings throughout the bedroom.
As proceedings progressed Tuesday, the images were shown repeatedly and a video of the crime scene was viewed.
Dennis Whittington, Matthew's father, sat on the front row with his head bowed each and every time they were shown.
|Frank Morris Murder Series|