MACON, Miss. (WCBI)- There are new developments in a Noxubee County capital murder case.
During a press conference on Wednesday, District Attorney Scott Colom said he’s now asking for a continuance in the trial against Jonathan Shumaker.
He was believed to be the gunman who shot and killed Kristopher Haywood, the store clerk at the Local Express Store, in March of 2015.
Shumaker, along with Elizabeth Reed, and brothers Justin and Joshua Williams, were all charged with capital murder for the alleged killing.
Shumaker’s trial was set to begin on Monday.
However, a key piece of evidence has now been discovered possibly showing that Shumaker and the three others who were charged were not involved.
“I’m not exonerating the three of them, but I am saying I am not in a position to where I think it’s in the best interest for the state of Mississippi to go to trial next week,” said Colom.
That key evidence is a recording that was discovered on Joshua Williams’s cell phone.
According to Colom, the recording features a guy by the name of Freddie Hill, who was a witness in the investigation.
Investigators said the recording places Hill and the four suspects at Reed’s home making a rap song just minutes after the crime allegedly occurred.
“These audios were concerning to me because of the timing,” the district attorney expressed. “The 911 call was reported at 10:37. The first recording is at 10:42 PM, five minutes after the 911 call, which means five minutes after the 911 report, the murder, for Freddie Hill to have Joshua Williams’s phone, and Freddie Hill say that the four of them were together making music, it’s inconsistent with the previous information I had.”
Colom then questioned the three co-defendants and administered polygraph tests.
The DA said they admitted to lying to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation about their involvement with the murder, and admitted Shumaker was with them all night at the home making music.
“This is what they’re saying, I can’t attest to the accuracy of this, but what they’re saying is that after several hours of questioning, they told MBI that Jonathan Shumaker was involved because that’s what they felt like was necessary to end the questioning, and to tell them what they wanted to hear, and to stop interviewing,” said Colom. “It was their belief, this is what they’re saying now, that they were going to be able to leave.”
All three witnesses who were interviewed have now recanted their statements and at this time, there is no physical evidence connecting Shumaker to the crime.
“I got a voice recording at 10:42 (PM) where a witness says this person was with me 13 miles away from the murder scene,” said Colom. “There’s a good chance that if we go to trial next week, Jonathan Shumaker would be acquitted. If he is, that’s it, it’s over. If I find other evidence in the future I can’t use it, so the only reason he agreed to the continuance was on the condition that he gets let out on bail. He maintains his innocence, he maintains his innocence. His position is, I’ve been in jail for four years for something I didn’t do.”
These developments have now prompted Colom to ask for a continuance until March 2020.
He will now hire a private investigator to look into the case and see if there’s any new evidence and possibly more people connected to this crime.
“For four years I believed he committed the murder,” said Colom. “Unfortunately as I got new information I wasn’t able to ignore it. Once I got the new information, I had to confront it and challenge myself as to what does the evidence actually show.”
All four suspects will be eligible to be released on bond and will be ordered to wear ankle monitors once they’re released.
Shumaker was out on parole at the time he was arrested for the 2015 killing.
He still has burglary of a dwelling charge pending, but will be entitled to a bond on that charge.
WCBI reached out to Shane Tompkins, Shumaker’s attorney .
He said he is aware of the continuance, but did not wish to give any further comment at this time.
The jurors summoned to court for the trial this upcoming Monday won’t have to report to the courthouse.