By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The jury heard three eyewitness testimonies and 911 recordings which detailed the events that led to the shooting death of a Mathiston man during the murder trial of Leslie Sharp yesterday.
The three women were with Sharp, 22, when she shot and killed Christopher Cole, 20, on Nov. 10, 2008 in an act she claims was self defense.
Alessandra Inzuzna, who was Cole’s girlfriend of nearly three years, said on the day of the shooting she found out Cole had been trying to start up a relationship with another woman. She contacted the woman, Kayla Huffman, by text message and they decided to meet to discuss Cole.
Huffman said she picked Inzunza up from Starkville High School and the two spent the day trying to figure out how they could catch Cole in a lie. Huffman said she and Cole texted back and forth throughout the day and she showed all the messages to Inzunza to prove to her it was Cole who was making the advances, not her. The women said they decided to find Cole and make sure he saw them together.
Before they went to confront Cole, the women stopped by the home of Nicole Tranchina, Inzunza’s best friend. Sharp and Tranchina were hanging out together, so Inzunza said she invited them to come along to find Cole. As they were getting in the car to leave, all three women said Sharp went to her own car to get something — they said they later found out it was a gun that was recently given to her by her father for protection.
The women said they drove out to Cole’s friend’s house on Kelly Road and saw Cole standing outside as they drove past the house. As Huffman turned the car around, she said Cole jumped into his truck and started driving down the road.
The women each testified they followed Cole to the intersection of Rock Hill Road, where he stopped his truck and got out to confront them. Huffman said Inzunza got out of the car, argued with Cole and got back in the car. She said they both started laughing at how angry Cole was as he came over and cursed at each of the women in the car.
Tranchina said it was then that Cole pulled out a gun, shot it in the air and began to walk away. Inzunza said she did not hear or see Cole shoot.
All three women said as Cole was walking away, Sharp stepped out of the back seat of the car, said something to the affect of “You don’t speak to girls like that,” and began rapidly shooting at Cole.
Huffman said Cole fell toward the front of her car and she had to back the car up to put the lights on his body. Huffman and Inzunza said they used clothing to apply pressure onto Cole’s wounds on his shoulder and groin while Tranchina said she called 911. Inzunza said she tried to get Sharp to help, but she said she couldn’t.
In her first statement to police, Inzunza said that Sharp repeatedly said “I was trying to protect us,” but the women said they did not feel threatened by Cole.
“I knew Chris wasn’t going to hurt us in any way,” Tranchina said. “We were all friends with him, so I knew he wasn’t going to hurt us.”
Both Tranchina and Inzunza said they had been threatened after Cole’s death. Tranchina said that after the threats, she went to her father’s house in Louisiana for two weeks. Inzunza filed a felony charged of intimidating a witness against Cole’s sister, Cassandra Cole, in March of 2009 after she allegedly blamed Inzunza for her brother’s death. The charge was later dropped. Neither woman said the threats affected their testimonies.
The prosecution played the recording of two calls placed to 911 on the night of the shooting.
During the first call, which lasted approximately one minute, the caller does not respond to the 911 operators repeated questions. All that is heard on the recording is the screams of multiple people in the background before the caller hangs up.
The second call was made by Sharp. She is heard telling the operator who she is and says, “I need 911. I shot Chris Cole.” Sharp asks people around her for the address so she can tell the operator. The operator asks Sharp to hand the phone to someone who is more calm because he could not understand her.
Sharp hands the phone to Inzunza who takes the operator’s directions to take a sweater and apply pressure to Cole’s wounds on his shoulder and leg. She can be heard crying and begging operator to hurry.
From the background, someone says they should put Cole in the car, but the operator urges the women to keep Cole where he is and wait for emergency responders. Several minutes later, the responders arrive and the call ends.
Kristin Capanella, deputy director of Oktibbeha County 911, said 911 received a total of three calls during that time period but the only one she could be sure was from that incident was the call placed by Sharp.
OCSD Deputy Commander John Davis said he was the first on the scene. He said Cole was cold to the touch and that if he had a pulse, it was weak when he arrived.
When Medical Examiner Michael Hunt arrived on the scene, he said they moved Cole into the ambulance to start advanced life support, but he had no pulse and was not breathing. Cole was declared dead on the scene.
Deputies secured the scene, including a Cole’s revolver and Sharp’s 9 mm pistol. Davis said they collected one spent round and four live rounds from Cole’s gun. He said the backs of the four live rounds had an indentation from the gun’s hammer, showing that the trigger had been pulled, but the rounds did not discharge. He could not say with certainty when the misfires occurred.
Davis also said that Sharp’s gun was found with six bullets still in the magazine. He said that the magazine would hold 16 bullets when fully loaded.
Though the sheriff’s department secured the scene and took photographs, it handed the investigation off to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations because Sharp’s father is a sheriff’s deputy.
Testimony will continue today at 9 a.m. at the Oktibbeha County Circuit Court.