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Opening statement given
Murder trial begins in county

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The trial of Webber Douglas Gilmer, accused of first degree murder and armed criminal action, began this week with Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd giving the prosecution's opening statement.

The jury began to hear the trial on Tuesday morning after being chosen on Monday.

Zahnd outlined his case in his opening statement by describing how Gilmer had called police to tell them that he intended to kill Brian Harrell on March 16, 2007.

“I'm getting ready to commit a crime... I'm promising you this,” Zahnd quoted. “Somebody's going to get killed right now... a Brian Harrell.”

Zahnd told the jury Gilmer had gone to the top of the stairs of Brandi's apartment in the 8200 block of Everton, after hanging up with police, and fired six shots at Brian, hitting him three times.

Gilmer was the landlord of the property Brandi was renting and had a dispute with Brandi over past rent so he had changed the locks on the apartment. Brian and Brandi were separated at the time but living only two apartment buildings away along Everton. They had reconciled and were preparing to move into a new home in Tulsa, Okla. with their two children.

According to Zahnd, when Brian and Brandi showed up on March 16, they called Kansas City police officers who told them and Gilmer that Gilmer could not keep the pair from retrieving their property in the apartment. Brian, Brandi and John Harrell, Brian's brother, left and returned later when Gilmer was not there. Brian forced the door open and the three began retrieving property from the apartment.

Authorities allege that when Gilmer arrived on the scene, he made the 911 call, saying he was going to kill Brian Harrell. Gilmer then fired the weapon six times, striking Brian three times, Zahnd alleged.

Zahnd told the jury authorities have four different 911 calls that were recorded. One call was from Gilmer, a second was from Brian as he was shot, a third was from Brandi after the shooting, and a fourth was from John during the altercation.

The defense attorney declined to provide an opening statement until later in the trial.

Zahnd then moved forward and began calling witnesses in the trial on Tuesday. Gilmer has been in the Platte County Detention Center since the alleged crime in March 2007.

Gilmer faces life without parole if convicted on the first degree murder charge. Gilmer is being represented by William Edgar Shull, special public defender, out of Liberty, Mo.

The trial is expected to last at least a week in the Platte County Courthouse and is being presided over by Judge Lee Hull.



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