CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Body camera video was shown and several witnesses were called to the stand Monday in the murder trial for a man accused of shooting and killing a Daytona Beach police officer in 2021.
Othal Wallace faces the death penalty if convicted of the murder of Officer Jason Raynor, who was shot in June 2021 while investigating a suspicious vehicle.
Prosecutors began opening statements by describing what led to the shooting and what happened after. Attorney Andy Urbanek said within minutes of the shooting, Wallace posted several stories on Instagram to tell his followers he loved them, “black power,” and to not let “the pigs” bother them.
Defense attorney Terry Shoemaker went next to say Raynor trapped Wallace to where he could not escape while he was trying to question him. He said Wallace was trying to defend himself and should not be guilty of first-degree murder. Shoemaker said the Instagram posts Wallace made were “senseless rhetoric based on what was going on in the country.”
Several witnesses were called to the stand Monday, including former Daytona Beach police employees and the mother of Wallace’s child. Former Officer Amanda Dickens was one of the first called to the stand and described arriving to the scene after Raynor was shot.
The mother of Wallace’s child testified she woke up to the commotion outside and brought out towels to help stop Raynor’s bleeding. She did not know at the time Wallace’s involvement.
A jury — comprised of nine women and six men — was seated Friday afternoon.
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Wallace’s trial is happening in Clay County after his defense team argued it would be difficult to find an impartial jury in Volusia County because of how much coverage the case has received.
Raynor, who had been with the Daytona Beach Police Department for about three years, was rushed to Halifax Health in grave condition after he was shot in the head. He had remained in critical condition following surgery until officials said on Aug. 17 that he died as the result of his injuries. Raynor was laid to rest on Aug. 23 and a tribute that took place across Volusia County.
Wallace was arrested in a multi-state manhunt 56 hours after the shooting.
His defense team is expected to argue that Wallace shot Raynor in self-defense. The state will argue Raynor was acting lawfully when he approached Wallace to question him about a possibly stolen car.
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