After numerous continuances, the second degree murder trial of Norman Bren Whitton began Tuesday at Loudon County Courthouse as Tellico Village residents, law enforcement officials and others provided testimony in the shooting death of Larry Butcher, who was killed during an altercation two years ago at the intersection of Toqua Road and Cheestana Way.
The incident, which took place about 6:15 p.m. April 15, 2010, allegedly began when Whitton found Butcher in a golf cart at the corner of the two streets. According to reports from Loudon County Sheriff's Office, Whitton used a .38-caliber revolver to shoot Butcher from inside the vehicle.
During his opening statements, Frank Harvey, assistant attorney general with the 9th Judicial District, said that evidence provided in the case will show jurors that Whitton was on his cellphone immediately after the incident and that the defendant was slow to respond to commands from law enforcement.
Harvey also said that Whitton at the time of the dispute was armed with a pistol in the passenger seat and had extra bullets in his pocket.
The defense is building a case of self-defense, arguing that Whitton was responding to an act of aggression from Butcher.
Defense attorney Brian Nichols, with Ford & Nichols, said during his opening remarks that Butcher's golf cart was in the middle of the road and not on a designated cart path, noting that when Whitton honked his horn, Butcher got angry and came for Whitton. He said the evidence shows that Whitton's tires were already turning to go toward his home on Cheestana Way when the incident occurred, implying that Whitton had no prior dispute with Butcher before arriving on the scene.
"The proof will show that Butcher put his hands through that window to the throat of Norman Whitton, and it happened like that - seconds," Nichols said. "... Mr. Whitton will tell anybody who will listen, 'This man was choking me; I had no choice'."
The trial was set to continue Wednesday.
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