Slain officers' widows testify in Montgomery trial

Sherry Clark and Jennifer Shelton testified in the first day of Demeatrius Montgomery's trial.

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by NewsChannel 36 Staff

WCNC.com

Posted on September 7, 2010 at 7:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 7 at 6:45 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Testimony in the Demeatrius Montgomery trial was emotional Tuesday, as the widows of the officers slain took the stand.

Demeatrius Montgomery has been behind bars for three years while awaiting trial for the shooting deaths of officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark.

Tuesday, attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution in the Demeatrius Montgomery trial laid out the blueprints for their cases during opening statements.

Before a packed courtroom, a prosecutor asked the jury to look for Officer Jeff Shelton and Officer Sean Clark, and then said “they aren’t here because he,” pointing at Demeatrius Montgomery, “murdered them.”

The prosecution told jurors that Montgomery shot the officers in cold blood then tossed the weapon and that the state had evidence to prove Montgomery pulled the trigger.

“This is not a who done it," says prosecutor Beth Green. "On March the 31st, this defendant made the decision that he was going to walk across the street and murder two police officers.”

The defense told jurors that the prosecution’s own evidence would prove that Demeatrius Montgomery was not the person who killed Shelton and Clark. 

“No one will be able to tell you who was holding that gun when it fired,” says defense attorney Duane Bryant.

Lawyers raised questions regarding evidence testing, saying that 98 percent of testing was conducted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

The defense also made a point to say that Montgomery is right handed, and said that fact will play a major role in the trial. 

“In the end, you will have reasonable doubt as to whether Demeatrius Montgomery killed two police officers,” says Bryant.

After opening statements, the widows of both officers took the stand.

Sherry Clark spoke of meeting, dating and then marrying Sean Clark.

She told the courtroom that her last memory of her husband is of him kissing her, kissing their son and then kissing her belly goodbye. 

“He would kiss my baby, 'Bye baby' he said, and then he left and he never came home,” Clark remembers. 

She was just months away from delivering their second child when he was killed. 

Jennifer Shelton told the courtroom about the first time she met Jeff Shelton, the man who would become her husband.

“He was the best person I knew, he had the best heart," she says. "[He] made friends so easily.”

She says that upon that first meeting he told her he wanted to be a police officer and then described the pain of seeing him unresponsive in the hospital the night he was shot and killed.

The defense did not make any statements or question either woman.

Twelve jurors were seated in the trial last week -- four white women, three black women, three white men and one Hispanic man. There are also three alternates.

The two weeks leading up to opening statements have been tumultuous for prosecutors and defense attorneys.

On the first day of pretrial motions, Montgomery refused to show up for court. He arrived after being coaxed by family members. Then, he refused to answer any of the judge's questions.

Defense attorneys say Montgomery has never spoken to them about the charges against him, and he has remained silent during court proceedings.

Also during pretrial motions, a detective in the case admitted he threw away notes on the investigation. The judge ruled out the death penalty as possible punishment because of the investigator's actions. Then, a second possible suspect emerged in the killings.

Last week the judge ruled that the defense could not mention that the death penalty was removed. Judge Forrest Bridges says he will determine if he will allow the jury to hear testimony from a man who says another person confessed to killing the officers.

NewsChannel 36 will have a reporter inside the courtroom throughout the trial. Check back with WCNC.com for updates.

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