At one point while James McMullen was testifying Thursday about the January shooting that wounded him and killed Ernest Sherman, the man he considered a brother, he jumped up in the witness stand and yelled at the woman on trial.
“You shot him!” he shouted at Hedy Moss. “You killed my brother!”
McMullen’s emotional testimony, which ranged from calm to sadness to anger, was the highlight of the second day of Moss’ murder trial in Summit County Common Pleas Judge Jay Wells’ courtroom.
McMullen vehemently denied there was any altercation involving Moss, him and Sherman, Moss’s roommate, before she shot the two men. Moss is claiming self-defense.
“There wasn’t a tussle,” Moss insisted during heated questioning from Erik Jones, who is representing Moss with attorney Jeff Laybourne.
Prosecutors say Moss shot Sherman, 55, and McMullen, 56, about 4 a.m. Jan. 16 at their Gold Street home after she went there to question them about her stolen pistol.
Moss, 50, of Akron, is charged with murder, felonious assault, attempted murder, tampering with evidence and having weapons under disability, which means she wasn’t permitted to have a firearm because of a previous conviction. Moss’ attorneys have said she will testify.
Gregory Gibson, who lives across from where the shooting occurred, testified Thursday that he heard three gunshots and saw McMullen running up the street, bleeding and shouting for someone to call 911. Gibson did as asked.
After the shots and before he saw McMullen, Gibson said he saw someone run from McMullen and Sherman’s home and speed away. He said he wasn’t able to see this person well enough to provide a description.
Gibson said this wasn’t the first time he’d called 911 because of something happening at McMullen and Sherman’s house. He said he has called more than 10 times for fights between McMullen and different people. He said there would often be 10 to 15 people outside the house drinking, smoking marijuana and yelling.
Ieasha Stoll, 27, who described herself as Sherman’s girlfriend, testified Thursday that she was staying the night with Sherman and was in his bedroom when the shooting occurred. She said she was sick that day and was sleeping when she heard tussling that sounded like someone might come through the wall of the two, side-by-side bedrooms. She then heard three gunshots.
After this, Stoll said, Moss, whom she had never before met, opened the door to the bedroom and told her they needed to leave immediately. Stoll said she put her clothes on and saw that Sherman had been shot and was on the floor bleeding. She said she ran outside, where she saw that Moss also had been shot in the arm.
Stoll said she helped Moss call 911.
Assistant Prosecutor Terri Burnside asked Stoll if she ever heard Moss cry for help. She said she did not.
Laybourne pressed Stoll about what went on inside the home Sherman and McMullen shared. She said both men drank alcohol and smoked marijuana and McMullen smoked crack. She said he kept a crack pipe in his room.
McMullen admitted to drinking and using drugs — both vices that he said he’s trying to shed. He also acknowledged having a criminal record that includes convictions for burglary, domestic violence and drug paraphernalia. He is currently in the Summit County Jail on charges of aggravated menacing, aggravated trespass, criminal damaging, drug paraphernalia and disorderly conducted related to a Nov. 9 incident.
On the morning of the shooting, McMullen said he fell asleep watching basketball. He said he awoke about 4 a.m. to the sound of someone pounding on his bedroom door. He said Moss, who had been let into the house by Sherman, came into his bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. McMullen said he was annoyed because he wasn’t expecting her at that early of an hour.
McMullen said he’s known Moss for more than 30 years and she’s a distant family relation. He said she was there to ask about a pistol she claimed someone had stolen from her. He said he wasn’t in the mood to be questioned.
McMullen said Moss went over and got Sherman and the two of them returned to McMullen’s room. He said Sherman said he needed to work that morning and got up to leave the room when Moss shot Sherman in the head.
He said Moss then started shooting at him. He said he kicked out the screen in an open window and jumped onto the roof overhang and then onto the sidewalk below. He said he had been shot in the arm and was “bleeding everywhere.”
McMullen said Moss came out of the house, where he had just jumped out of the window, and said to him, “I should have killed you, too.” He said she then drove away.
McMullen became emotional when prosecutors played his 911 call. He wiped his eyes, shook his head and put his hands over his eyes.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Stano asked McMullen what he would say to Moss claiming she had to shoot them to defend herself.
“That’s a lie!” McMullen responded.
Jones questioned McMullen about what weapons he and Sherman had in the house. He said neither of them had a gun, but both had machetes. Still, McMullen said, “I didn’t cause her to pull the trigger.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, email@example.com and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.