The girlfriend of a Lawrence man who is suspected of attempted murder testified Wednesday that her boyfriend told her he shot a man who was swinging an axe at him early on April 1.
William J. Verner, 27, is accused of shooting a 22-year-old Lawrence man about 3:30 a.m. April 1 outside an apartment in the 1300 block of Michigan Way.
Prosecutors have filed the attempted murder charge against Verner accusing him of shooting the victim in the leg. Verner’s girlfriend, Jennifer Killough, testified at a preliminary hearing Wednesday that she had gone to bed at her home about 12:30 a.m. and that Verner had left her house earlier.
She estimated Verner returned to bed about 3 a.m., and she said Verner told her the next day he had shot the man. Killough said her car also had a dent in the trunk from that night, but Verner didn’t tell her how the damage occurred.
Defense attorney J.C. Gilroy had asked Killough if she was certain about the time Verner returned to bed early that morning, but she said she could not be for sure because she was asleep.
Ryan Harjo also testified Wednesday that he struck the vehicle Verner was driving with an axe that morning because he was upset about Verner allegedly stealing $50 from his wife weeks earlier. Harjo also said he believed Verner was hanging around in front of his apartment on several occasions, and he thought Verner was stealing from other people as well.
“I was afraid that (Verner) might get shot in front of my house and bullets might go through the house and shoot my kids,” Harjo said.
He said he and his wife’s cousin, Chebon Chibitty, had chased Verner and forced him to drive away from his apartment in a car. Harjo said later that morning the same vehicle returned without its headlights on.
“I saw an arm and him pointing a gun at me,” Harjo said, pointing to Verner at the defendant’s table.
Two shots were fired, and Chibitty was hit in the knee, Harjo said.
“I could see it was him. I know it was his face,” he said.
Harjo also said he later discovered holes in his jeans and that he thought a bullet passed through them without striking his leg. Gilroy said Harjo had made inconsistent statements to police, and Harjo also during cross-examination denied he had said he had consumed cocaine that night and that he wanted his money back.
Chibitty testified he ducked onto the ground once he heard shots were fired from the vehicle.
“I started to get up, and my leg felt weird,” said Chibitty, who later saw blood squirting from his knee. He was eventually taken to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., and was released days later.
Harjo, who works as a tree trimmer, faces charges in a separate case after he was accused of threatening someone with a chainsaw weeks later, April 22, at the same apartment on Michigan Way.
District Judge Michael Malone scheduled closing arguments in the case for 2 p.m. June 6.