Third day of Jamestown murder trial completed

MAYVILLE — While it wasn’t yet entered into evidence, the firearm David F. Waggoner allegedly used to shoot William J. Michishima on July 24 was identified during court proceedings Friday.

Michishima, 30, was pronounced dead last July after being flown to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa, after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Waggoner, 54, is accused second-degree murder for pulling the trigger of a .22 caliber revolver in front of 114 Livingston Ave. that resulted in the death of Michishima. Waggoner pled not guilty while his representation has maintained that his actions were justified in the murder trial that began Wednesday.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Patrick Swanson is handling the prosecution of the case, which is taking place in front of County Court Judge David Foley. Waggoner is represented by Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone.

Swanson’s opening statement outlined the day of the shooting implicating Waggoner for the murder of Michishima while Barone focused on prior events leading up to the July 24 shooting.

Barone’s opening statement emphasized that the defendant reacted to a “life and death” situation.

The weapon in question has been mentioned numerous times throughout the trial, but it wasn’t until Friday that it was officially identified. Following several photos being entered into evidence by the prosecution that depicted the firearm, the actual firearm was identified by Corry Moore, Jamestown Police Department patrolman. Moore was one of many law enforcement officers to respond to the scene.

On Wednesday, Kimberly Johnston, girlfriend of Waggoner and resident of 114 Livingston Ave., admitted to hiding the weapon used in the shooting along with an additional weapon minutes after the incident occurred. Johnston agreed to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a reduced charge. Johnston testified that she hid the weapons off the roadway on Bailey Street in the town of Ellicott. Shortly after disposing of the weapons, upon Waggoner’s request, she returned to her residence, where the scene was secured by emergency services and the Jamestown and Ellicott police departments.

Johnston later told JPD where the weapons were located. Moore was the officer who photographed the weapons found on Bailey Street and the scene located at 114 Livingston Ave. While the patrolman was allowed to describe and identify both weapons in the courtroom Friday, Foley ensured that the weapons were not visible to the jury, at this time, to avoid an unnecessary prejudicial impact on the jury’s perception of the case.

It is anticipated that a future witness, Floyd Kent, former JPD detective, who test fired both weapons following the incident, per JPD procedure, will further identify the weapons. At that point, the prosecution will likely offer the weapons to be entered into evidence, pending Foley’s ruling and potential objection from the defense.

Moore told the courtroom that upon examining the weapon, it was learned that the weapon, capable of holding nine rounds, contained eight live rounds and one “spent” round. He also revealed that several distinct modifications were visible on the .22 caliber firearm. A long tube similar pool noodle,” as Moore described it, was attached to the barrel. Additionally, a laser pointer attached to it was identified to the jury by Moore when a photo of it was shown to the jury.

Friday’s proceeding only heard one other witness, JPD Capt. Bob Samuelson. Samuelson began his testimony on Wednesday but was cut short due to time.

During Samuelson’s time on the stand, a video was entered into evidence depicting an interview he conducted with Waggoner after the shooting on July 24. During the interview, Waggoner, as he did previously on body camera footage played for the jury Thursday, denied shooting Michishima. He again claimed Michishima fell and hit his head, according to the video played for jurors Friday.

Samuelson informed Waggoner that there were three witnesses with knowledge of the shooting. Samuelson acknowledged on Friday that there are only two witnesses who observed the actual shooting. Additional witnesses arrived shortly after the shooting occurred.

Samuelson also informed Waggoner, on July 24, that Johnston admitted to hiding the weapon in question and that it was now in possession of JPD.

Waggoner continued to deny any involvement other than an initial confrontation during the video playback. He also repeatedly drew attention to a blue-colored vehicle that allegedly drove by on Livingston Ave. just before Michishima was injured.

Waggoner additionally detailed how he came to know Michishima. According to the defendant, it was a random occurrence that Michishima approached him. Michishima allegedly introduced himself one day at Waggoner’s place of employment. From there, Waggoner is heard saying, Michishima became increasingly, “stranger and stranger.” The defendant alluded to his own past biker club affiliations as to a possible reason Michishima approached him initially.

Waggoner again repeated details mentioned throughout the trial that he believed Michishima had stolen his motorcycle titled to Johnston and then burned it a week before the shooting.

The video ends after Waggoner demands to see Johnston, who he referred to as his wife, and asked to speak with an attorney.

During cross examination, Barone introduced evidence and elicited testimony from Samuelson regarding a photograph taken of Samuelson and Michishima in June 2018, a month before his death. Waggoner makes reference to the photo, having apparently viewed it, during the interview with Samuelson on July 24 shown to the jury Friday.

Waggoner referred to Michishima as a “snitch” working for JPD. Waggoner declared he had no issue with any of Michishima’s possible law enforcement involvement during the video. However, he later asked Samuelson why JPD never arrested Michishima and allowed him to remain on the streets, referring to the deceased as a “menace to society.”

Samuelson apparently spoke to several different individuals regarding the photo and to inquire about Michishima.

Additionally, a title to the motorcycle owned by Michishima was entered into evidence. The title was in Waggoner’s possession when he was taken to JPD on July 24. The same motorcycle was parked outside Waggoner’s residence when emergency services arrived.

During the footage of the interview, Waggoner is heard telling Samuelson that Michishima offered the title of his own motorcycle as a form of retribution for burning the stolen motorcycle. Waggoner continued to demand Michishima to leave, he is heard telling the JPD captain.

“It’s like a dream.Why he would choose me?” Waggoner said questioning Michishima’s intent for befriending him.

Court will resume on March 19 at 9:30 a.m.

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