Defense shows critical clue in retrial of Daniel Willis

Why didn't he just wait? It's a question that was not completely answered during the first trial and not during the re-trial until Tuesday morning.

Family members of Yvette Smith walked out of court Tuesday visibly distraught.

"Basically they are forgetting my sister was the victim," said Yvonne Williams Smith's twin sister.

The tears came after a defense witness not only provide an excuse, for former deputy Daniel Willis, but also pointed out a critical clue. Defense attorney Robert McCabe said investigators apparently missed it.

"This is something that wasn't caught ion the first trial it wasn't caught by the state's expert, if you want to call him an expert, it was caught by our expert months ago when he first saw this."

Police tactics expert David Blake found what seems to be a viable explanation for the shooting which was captured on dash cam video two years ago. Former deputy Daniel Willis claims he decided to fire his rifle, killing Yvette Smith, because he saw the silver flash of a gun being pointed at him.

Tuesday, Blake testified that he may have found that flash in this crime picture from where Willis fired the shots. Blake pointed to a bright spot in the image at the front door. It turns out to be a plastic material draped over a table. Light from the camera that took the picture caused the plastic to illuminate. The night of the shooting, Willis's flash light may have done the same thing.

"It is a possibility," said McCabe.

Based on the information Willis was given by dispatchers, that a gunman  was at the door, Blake also testified that Willis' mind was primed to see a gun.

"It is apparent danger, the law of apparent danger is, Daniel Willis perceived and immediate deadly threat to him, he acted on that threat. Whether or not that subject, Yvette Smith, happens to be armed at the end of that is absolutely not a relevant fact whatsoever," said McCabe.

From the beginning, prosecutor Forrest Sanderson argued that the gun Willis saw was a figment of his imagination and that his actions we not just irresponsible but qualified as out right murder. This new testimony has literally turned that accusation upside down.

For Smith's family the conclusions from the defense expert do not excuse the actions that caused her death.
The matters is he still pulled the trigger, whether you thought you saw something, you still didn't take, really allow seconds for you to have a reaction, you still pulled the trigger and shot somebody that was innocent," said Williams.

Blake went on to testify that that if Smith had a gun, she could have gotten off a shot before Deputy Willis was able to. It remains in dispute as to whether or not Smith had a gun during the incident which originated as a domestic dispute.


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