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MURPHYSBORO — After nearly two days of of jury selection, the trial began Tuesday of a man accused in an April 12 shooting in Carbondale that injured four people.

Jody Pullen Jr.

Pullen

Jody Pullen Jr. is charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm related to the shooting on Washington Street in Carbondale, between Mexican restaurant and bar Tres Hombres and ABC Liquor. 

The jury of eight women and four men, with one person of color, heard opening statements and the beginning of the state’s evidence late in the day Tuesday.

Jackson County Assistant State’s Attorney Jayson Clark described the scene that spring evening. He said Pullen, having argued with a group of men while in line at the liquor store’s drive-up window, fired a handgun from the front passenger-side window of a vehicle as his girlfriend drove.

“He did all this with his infant child and girlfriend in the car,” Clark told the jury in his opening statement.

He said there were two rounds of shots fired. The second came, Clark said, as Pullen’s girlfriend reversed the car. It was here that Pullen fired on one of the victims who was cowering behind the restaurant holding his head. Clark said the man had been shot there and the bullet was still in his head.

“You are going to see the defendant commit this offense,” Clark told the jury, referring to surveillance video footage of the shooting.

He said the jury will also hear from two different stories from Pullen in a police interview. In one, he was never there. In the other, he was there, but was defending himself. Pullen was arrested in Harrisburg nearly two weeks after the incident.

Clark said Pullen’s excuse for opening fire was that one of the men he was arguing with shot at him first. But, Clark said, the evidence will not bear this out. The Bull’s jacket the other man was wearing had no gunshot residue on it, Clark said the evidence will show.

Clark said Pullen just wanted to settle a score and decided to do it with a gun.

Pullen's defense attorney, Christian Baril, told a very different story in his opening statement.

“In the blink of an eye, Jody Pullen had a choice: React or die,” Baril told the jury.

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Baril said the evening started when Pullen and his girlfriend drove to ABC to buy a cigarillo to take home — his baby son was in the backseat, asleep.

While in the drive-up line he exchanged words with a group of men who were across the alley, abutting the Tres Hombres beer garden.

As the exchange heated up, Baril said, Pullen tried to defuse the situation.

“I don’t want any problems. I got my kid in the car,” Baril said Pullen told the group.

Then, Baril said, he saw a person knock on the door of a Ford Focus with dark tint on the windows. According to Baril, a man stepped out of the car with a black and silver Smith & Wesson .9 mm. Baril said Pullen was “a sitting duck.”

In his version of events, both men started shooting, with four bullet holes later being found in Pullen’s car. He and his girlfriend later found their way back to their home, but they weren’t yet out of the woods, he told the jury.

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After getting into their trailer, leaving the lights off, they saw a car pull up and then heard about 20 shots fired at their home. They were later picked up and taken to safety, Baril said.

“Jody did not expect any of this to happen,” Baril said. “It’s a wonder they are not dead.”

After laying out their sides of what happened that night in April, Clark called his first witness, a woman who was working that night. She said she was at her car, parked behind Tres Hombres, when she heard someone shout and then shots fired.

She testified that she saw a man’s arm out the window of a car, firing toward the beer garden. She said she saw the car back up, turn in her direction and drive onto Marion Street. However, on cross-examination, the woman conceded that she couldn’t see the events leading up to the shooting and had no reason to look in that direction.

Clark played surveillance video to back up the woman's account, having her provide narration of what she saw and heard as it played.

It’s unclear how helpful the blurry surveillance video will be for either side. Both parties had compelling stories to tell about the shooting and why it happened, but the videos were less definitive than perhaps either side wanted the jury to believe.

The state will resume presenting evidence at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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