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Trial begins for man accused of killing Challis woman

Crime Watch

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Mark Wilson

RIGBY — Custer County prosecutors say the trial of Mark Wilson is not to determine whether he killed Patricia “Pat” Brown, but rather if her death was premeditated.

The trial for 53-year-old Wilson began Monday in Jefferson County. Wilson is accused of shooting and killing 75-year-old Pat Brown in March 2018. He is charged with first-degree murder and both the prosecution and defense acknowledged Wilson has admitted multiple times to shooting and killing the woman.

“The issue in the case is really not whether or not he killed Pat. The issue is, how did he kill her,” Custer County Prosecutor Justin Oleson said in his opening statements.

Oleson told the jury he would prove Wilson killed Brown willfully, deliberately and with premeditation.

Wilson’s public defender James Archibald opened by telling the jury “my client, Mark Wilson, killed Pat Brown.”

“Not all deaths are murder. Some are manslaughter,” Archibald said.

Archibald told the jury he will ask them at the end of the trial to determine if Brown’s death constitutes murder or manslaughter. First-degree murder carries a minimum of 10 years maximum penalty of life in prison or death. However, Oleson said they will not seek the death penalty.

Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Man accused of killing beloved Challis woman refused to answer cops’ questions

Police reports show Wilson was living with Brown at the time of her death. According to Oleson, Wilson was reliant on Brown’s income. He also said there is some dispute as to whether or not Wilson and Brown were in a romantic relationship.

After opening statements from the prosecution and defense, Oleson called four witnesses. The first witness testified about how he had lent Wilson the .22 caliber rifle the day Brown was killed. The witness said Wilson asked to borrow the rifle to kill a couple of cats that were causing problems on Brown’s property.

The next witness was Custer County dispatcher Linda Lumpkin. She took Wilson’s 911 call after he shot Brown. When the recording of that call was played for the jury, Wilson could be heard telling the dispatcher that he’d shot Brown.

Lumpkin stayed on the phone with Wilson until law enforcement arrived, but he never said why he shot Brown.

Near the end of the call, Wilson told Lumkin “I love my friends, but sh** happens.”

Custer County Sheriff Stuart Lumpkin testified to what happened when he and another deputy arrived at Brown’s home. He said Wilson was out on the back porch and was taken into custody without incident.

Stuart Lumpkin said when he searched the house looking for Brown he went downstairs to the home’s basement. There he found a spent .22 shell casing. Behind a closed door, he found Brown. She was still alive. He immediately called for an ambulance, but emergency responders were unable to help.

The final witness called Monday was former Custer County Chief Sheriff Deputy Mike Talbot. Talbot was the first to arrive at Brown’s home after Wilson’s 911 call. He arrived moments before Lumpkin. Talbot said Wilson had a cellphone in one hand and a can of beer in the other when he arrived at the home. He said Wilson was cooperative and did not appear intoxicated.

After Talbot’s testimony, district judge Stevan Thompson released the jury for the day. The trial will resume Tuesday morning and will likely run through at least Wednesday.

The trial is being held in Jefferson County because the Judge and the defense did not believe Wilson could receive a fair trial in sparsely populated Custer County.

Oleson told he objected multiple times to the trial being moved to Jefferson County.