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Mississippi Supreme Court denies rehearing appeal from 2017 Memorial Day weekend killer

Willie Godbolt (Photo courtesy of Mississippi Department of Corrections)

The Mississippi Supreme Court has denied a second appeal to uphold the conviction of the Bogue Chitto man who killed eight people in 2017.

Willie Cory Godbolt was initially sentenced to death in 2020 for the murders of four individuals, along with life sentences for the deaths of four others. The victims were killed at three different locations in Lincoln County over a two-day span. Godbolt immediately appealed his sentences.

Mississippi’s highest court heard arguments from the killer’s designated attorney and determined that there was sufficient evidence to uphold his conviction.

The 41-year-old was taken into custody for the Memorial Day weekend shooting that began on May 17 at 11:30 p.m. at a residence in Bogue Chitto, which resulted in three women and 36-year-old sheriff’s deputy, William Durr, receiving fatal wounds.

According to law enforcement, the shooting started after Godbolt’s wife, Sheena May, refused to return his children to him. May and her daughter had recently moved out of their shared house but escaped before the incident began.

Officials then found two males dead in another home in Brookhaven before discovering a man and female shot to death at a third residence. Authorities later released that the three women found in the first location had been identified as May’s mother, aunt, and sister.

Altogether, Godbolt claimed that he was not given a fair trial. The criminal called for his trial to be moved from Lincoln County to Desoto County, claiming he would not be given fair treatment in the county where the crimes occurred. A venue change was granted with jurors from DeSoto County, but with jurors from Pike County.

Godbolt then contested that having the trial in Pike County was virtually no different than taking place in Lincoln County given the two counties border one another. His attorney also called into question the presence of 12 jurors with direct ties to law enforcement. The majority of justices dismissed those concerns.

In addition, Godbolt claimed that he should not have been tried for all of the crimes simultaneously. He argued that since the crimes took place in three separate scenes over several hours, the charges were separate and distinct, meaning the crimes were not interwoven.

The high court dispelled those claims, arguing that he had used the time in between murders to premeditate how the criminal activity would be conducted.

After the denial, Godbert’s counsel filed a motion for rehearing, which was denied by the court on Wednesday.

An execution date for Godbolt has not been set at this time.

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