By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The trial of a young Starkville woman who stands accused of murdering a Mathiston man in November of 2008 started this week in Okitibbeha County Circuit Court.
Leslie Marie Sharp, 21, of 1333 Oakwood Drive, is accused of shooting Christopher Cole, 20, on Kelly Road near the intersection of Rock Hill Road in Oktibbeha County on November 10, 2008.
The details of the case that have been revealed thus far in court are as follow:
According to her testimony, Alissandra “Alize” Diane Inzunza, of 303 Old West Point Road, who was 18 at the time, was dating Christopher Cole for nearly three years when she discovered he had been “hitting on” a girl he had known for several years, Kayla Huffman.
In their testimonies, both females stated that Inzunza contacted Huffman via text messages earlier in the day on November 10, 2008 to inquire about the advances Cole had made. Huffman confirmed that they were true and agreed to meet with Inzunza later in the day. Huffman later picked Inzunza up from Starkville High School, and the females planned to have Cole see them together, so he would know Inzunza had learned of his advances toward Huffman.
Before going to find Cole, the females stopped at the home of Nicole Tranchina, a close friend of Inzunza. They invited Tranchina and Sharp, who was also a close friend, to come with them to find and confront Cole. The females agreed to go, because, as Tranchina testified in court, they “had nothing else to do.”
As they were about to leave Tranchina’s home, all three eyewitnesses stated that Sharp went to her car to retrieve an item, which they later found out was a gun given to her by her father for protection. The females then left in Huffman’s Chevrolet Malibu to find Cole.
Inzunza stated that she found out Cole was at a friend’s house on Kelly Road, and the females witnessed Cole getting into his truck as they drove past. Huffman testified that she turned the car around and followed Cole’s truck to the stop sign at the intersection of Kelly Road and Rock Hill Road.
Inzunza stated she then got out of the car and confronted Cole. They argued for a few minutes, cursing and yelling at each other, before Inzunza got back into Huffman’s car.
Huffman said that Cole then came over to the driver’s side and yelled at her, and then said “F--- you” to each of the females, which she said she and Inzunza laughed at.
Tranchina testified that he then pulled out a gun and shot once into the air, before walking back towards his truck. Inzunza, however, stated that she did not remember seeing Cole with a gun that night, though she knew he owned one.
All three eyewitnesses then claimed that Sharp stepped out of the backseat of Huffman’s car, said something to the affect of, “You don’t speak to a woman like that,” and then shot Cole as he walked back to his truck.
911 recordings revealed that two separate calls were made from the scene that night. During the first call, the caller does not respond to the 911 operator’s questions, and all that is heard is screams from the background before the call ends.
The second call is made by Sharp, who informs the operator that Cole has been shot and she was the one who shot him. She becomes hysterical and the operator instructs her to hand the phone to someone who is calm. Inzunza takes the phone, begs them to send help, and follows instructions to apply pressure to Cole’s wounds until help arrived.
Sheriff Deputy Commander John Davis was the first on the scene. When he arrived, he secured two guns, a .32 caliber revolver belonging to Cole, which contained one fired round and four rounds that had misfired, and a Smith and Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic hand gun belonging to Sharp, containing six unfired rounds. The defense stated that the six unfired rounds could have meant that the gun had been fired six times previously, considering a 9 mm can hold 12 rounds at time, and Davis confirmed. He also said that when he arrived on the scene, Cole had little to no pulse, was cold to the touch, and his pupils were dilated.
Emergency responders attempted to resuscitate Cole, but he was declared dead on the scene according to Oktibbeha County Coroner Michael Hunt.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations took over the case immediately, because Sharp’s father worked for the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department.
Clair Nethery, a crime scene analyst with the MBI, testified that 10 shell casings were found on the scene.
Shan Hales, a toxicology expert with the Mississippi Crime Lab, testified that Cole tested negative for alcohol, but tests showed a “conditional positive” for marijuana, meaning there may have been marijuana present in Cole’s body when he died. Photos entered into evidence showed a small amount of marijuana, a digital scale, and a rifle were all found in Cole’s truck during the investigation.
The defense is arguing that Sharp acted in justifiable self-defense and in the defense of the other females. In their opening statements, the defense stated that Cole was coming towards Sharp, and attempted to shot several times, but his gun misfired.
The prosecution, however, maintains that Sharp shot at Cole 10 times, hitting him seven, as he was walking away, and was not a threat to the females.
The trial will continue today at 9 a.m. in the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.