August 9, 2018 10:41:57 AM
BROOKHAVEN -- Some Mississippi officials say they worry about the expense of a capital murder trial for a man charged with killing eight people in May 2017.
Willie Cory Godbolt is charged with four counts of capital murder that could carry the death penalty, plus four counts of murder, one of attempted murder, two of kidnapping and one of armed robbery.
He pleaded not guilty in March, and a trial could be more than a year away because some autopsies are not finished.
The Daily Leader reports Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield told supervisors Monday during a budget workshop that Circuit Judge David Strong hopes to complete the trial by the end of 2019. It could be moved elsewhere in Mississippi, or jurors could be brought from another county.
"That trial is going to cost us," Bairfield said.
Supervisors have often complained about the cost of housing Godbolt in the Copiah County jail. They budgeted $85,000 for the trial in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. While little of that has been spent, it won't be nearly enough if the court orders a jury brought into Lincoln County, in which case the county would be responsible for housing, feeding and protecting the jurors.
The supervisors tried to nail down a cost estimate for the trial to include in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which takes effect Oct. 1.
"I don't know if $150,000 would do it," said county administrator David Fields.
Godbolt has been jailed without bail since his arrest May 28, 2017, hours after the killings in Lincoln County.
The first shootings happened at the home of Godbolt's in-laws. The victims included his mother-in-law, Barbara Mitchell; sheriff's deputy William Durr; and two others.
Two people each were killed at the second and third homes.
Bairfield indicated the judge has grown impatient with the progress of the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory. As of Thursday, the district attorney was still awaiting autopsy reports on three of the eight victims and is considering calling lab officials to court to answer for the speed of their work if all autopsy reports aren't turned in by Godbolt's next status hearing Nov. 13.
"It's been very frustrating for me, and for the families," said Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing, who took supervisors' questions alongside Bairfield. "We've called everybody from the governor on down asking for help, and I've beat the drum for more funding for the crime lab before."