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Jury hears from multiple witnesses in first day of Boone County murder trial


Court adjourned just before 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first day of a first-degree murder case against Jessie Williams at the Boone County Courthouse.

The trial will resume Thursday morning and is expected to wrap up Thursday evening.

Williams is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2022 death of Kaylen Schmit. He is accused of pushing Schmit off the Highway 63 bridge near Clark Lane. Schmit, 24, fell 38 feet into a wooded area and died hours later at a hospital.

Williams appeared in court alongside his public defender Daniel Hickman. Jurors were selected Wednesday morning, with opening statements starting around 2:30 p.m.

Boone County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Susan Boresi asked the jury to find Williams guilty of first-degree murder in Schmit's death.

"Kaylen sustained fractured ribs, 21 fractured ribs, she sustained a broken spinal column, she sustained massive hemorrhage around her kidneys, around her heart and she sustained a lacerated liver that was basically split open. All from her 38-foot-fall to the hard ground below from the guardrail," Boresi said. "At the end of the evidence, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to ask you to return verdicts of guilty of murder in the first degree."

The defense for Williams reserved their statement. The jury then heard from five witnesses on Wednesday. The first two witnesses were living in a homeless camp at the time of Schmit's death. They said they heard Schmit and Williams arguing over Schmit's belongings and saw the two walking away together.

The next two witnesses were driving on Highway 63 on the night of Schmit's death and claim to have seen a man pushing a woman over the guardrail on the overpass. Another witness was the first Columbia Police Officer to arrive on scene and find Schmit's body.

Prosecutors put into evidence an autopsy photo of Schmit that witnesses were able to identify as the victim, as well as the 911 call from a witness and body camera video from the first police officer on scene.

Judge Brock Jacobs told jurors they can only make their decision by the evidence presented in the courtroom and may not do any of their own research or share any of their thoughts on the case.

According to the probable cause statement from 2022, witnesses told police that Williams and Schmit had been seen arguing in a nearby homeless camp before the incident. Other witnesses saw the two walking on the Highway 63 overpass, with one witness telling police he saw Williams grabbing Schmit's legs to throw her over the guardrail on the Highway 63 bridge.

Police say Williams answered questions indicating he pushed Schmit from the bridge because he had mental issues and was sick. However, the statement does not say Williams directly confessed.

Williams was on parole for the August 2018 stabbing of a homeless man. He was previously in the Missouri Department of Corrections from December 2019 until Aug. 8, 2022.

According to CaseNet, Williams was convicted of two assaults in 2019. He pleaded guilty in 2019 to a December 2018 assault and was also charged for handcuffing himself to a Boone County officer and attacking and choking her.

First-degree murder is punishable by life in prison or execution in Missouri.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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