Billy M. Norbury was declared guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Jamal Andrews by a jury in Mendocino County Superior Court on Monday, Oct. 22.
Many in the audience gasped and sobbed as the verdict was read, though Judge John Behnke told the jury that the trial was not over and would instead be entering its second phase. __”We will meet again for the sanity phase of the trial at 9:30 a.m.,” Behnke said.
The jury was not polled after it returned a verdict of guilty on both counts: Murder in the first-degree and the special allegation that Norbury, 34, used a gun to kill his neighbor Andrews, 30, on Jan. 24.
The defense and prosecution gave the jury stacks of evidence to consider, including testimony from nearly 40 witnesses, copious pictures, surveillance videos showing Norbury’s whereabouts in the hours before the shooting and court records from Norbury’s ongoing divorce proceedings, among other things.
Mendocino County district attorney David Eyster went through a timeline his investigator had established that uses surveillance videos from one of two Redwood Valley bars and from a gas station and witnesses’ statements to track Norbury’s whereabouts as he drove an ATV around town in the hours before the shooting, from 3:58 p.m. to 9:52 p.m., when the first 911 call was made. The timeline doesn’t account for 15 minutes between 8:45 p.m., when Norbury was last seen by two witnesses at Vic’s Place and when surveillance video showed him arriving at 9 p.m. at Taylor’s Tavern, and leaving 42 minutes later.
”We call that an opportunity to do bad,” Eyster said of the missing 15 minutes, “an opportunity to seize the rifle ... This 15 minutes is critical because you have to ask, how did he get the gun, and why did he get the gun.”
Kubanis disputed the point, saying it was more likely that Norbury got agitated at Taylor’s Tavern - as an interior surveillance video shows - and got the gun on his way to Andrews’ house. Kubanis also argued that Norbury was very intoxicated that night and while he may have been capable of having the “intent to kill” required for second-degree murder, he wasn’t capable of the premeditation and deliberation required for a first-degree murder conviction.
Now that Norbury has been convicted, Kubanis is expected to present evidence to support his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, and the jury will retire a second time to decide that matter.
In the court proceedings to date, Kubanis was trying to convince the jury that Norbury was quite drunk the night of the shooting, while Eyster has been trying to make a case that Norbury had enough of his wits about him to drive well, not stumble or appear drunk to anyone he encountered leading up to the shooting and to shoot accurately.