CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Testimony continued Tuesday in the Clay County 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.
The jury heard from many of the state’s witnesses about what happened right after the shooting and how investigators captured Wallace. Daytona Beach investigators said they used Raynor’s body camera to identify Wallace. On that night in June 2021, they said Raynor was searching for a stolen car and found Wallace in one that looked similar, tried to question him and that’s when Wallace shot him and took off.
Wallace’s father testified his son called him on the phone after the shooting.
“He said, ‘Cop shot, I’ve got to get away,’” he said.
His father said he hung up on his son and turned his phone off so Wallace couldn’t contact him. Prosecutors said Wallace ditched his car in Gainesville and was caught days after the shooting in a treehouse in Georgia, where he had several guns and ammunition. The jury then heard that Raynor died 55 days after the shooting.
At the end of the day, the judge addressed Wallace and told him he has the right to testify. The judge said Wallace will likely need to make a decision whether to testify by Thursday as the judge would like to have trial wrapped up by the end of the day Friday.
Opening statements were delivered Monday before going into the first witnesses.
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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