Dispute over ownership of strip of road led to Novelty man's death

Glenn Head, left, talks with one of his attorneys, John James, during a recess Monday at the Randolph County Courthouse in Moberly, Mo. (H-W Photo/Don O'Brien)
Posted: Apr. 8, 2014 12:02 am Updated: Apr. 22, 2014 1:14 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

MOBERLY, Mo. -- On the first day of a second-degree murder trial involving a former St. Louis police officer, the prosecution and defense gave the jury a look at how they see the case.

Lawyers for Glenn C. Head, 60, of Novelty, say he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed William Bacon, 67, also of Novelty, on Dec. 11, 2012. Prosecutors told jurors Head didn't need to act with violent force as the two argued over land usage near Bacon's residence in rural Knox County.

Knox County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jo Fortney said the incident leading to Bacon's death was the last in an ongoing dispute over a 1,500-foot-by-15-foot strip of road. A month earlier on the first day of Missouri deer season, the two argued over usage of the road, which abuts the property of one Head's friends, Don Roper.

"Bill Bacon chose to handle things one way," Fortney said. "He hired his own attorney and contacted the Knox County Sheriff's Department. His attorney told him to document everything and not to engage in any conflict."

On the day of the shooting, Bacon was taking photos of Head, who was spreading fertilizer near the road.

"He took with him a camera and a tape recorder," Fortney said. "He didn't take a gun, a knife or a club. This led to another altercation, and Mr. Bacon wasn't able to survive."

Head's attorney, Charlie James, told the jury they weren't trying to solve a mystery. Head shot Bacon but only as he was trying to protect himself. James said Bacon was the aggressor when it came to protecting the road.

"This is not a murder case," James said. "This is a case of justifiable homicide. It's a case of self defense."

James said Bacon first confronted Head over the road during an incident during the hunting season in 2006 or 2007. Head thought the road was part of Knox County Road 341 and that it was open to public use. Bacon said that it was on his private property.

"He had no problem telling Glenn what he would do if he went down that road again," James said.

Another incident happened a month before the shooting. Several hunters who were on Roper's property had parked their trucks on the road on Bacon's property. James said Bacon "went nuts" in regard to the hunters. Head was also at the scene and told Bacon that the road Bacon claimed was his was an open county road.

"(Bacon) went right to Head and started poking him in the chest," James said.

Less than a week after that incident, Head and Roper asked the Knox County Commission whether the road was open or closed. The same day, Bacon also meet with the commission about the same incident.

Bacon claimed to have documentation that indicated the part of the county road on his property was closed. Head and Roper returned to the commission two weeks after their initial appearance and left with the impression the road was still open.

James told the jury the men had a confrontation on the day of the shooting. He said Bacon told Head that he was going to take his tractor.

James said Head got off the tractor and told Bacon the road was still open, while Bacon contended the road was his. James said as Head was trying to get back on the tractor after their confrontation, he was hit in the head by Bacon. James said Head, who had a concealed carry permit, pulled out a gun.

"(Head) yelled at Bacon to stay back," James said. "Mr. Bacon grabbed (Head's) gun hand and tried to take the gun. Mr. Head had been trained as a police officer to never let anyone take his gun. He was finally able to get control of the gun and fired twice."

James said the first shot hit Bacon in the leg, only grazing him. The second shot, James said, hit Bacon in the upper chest.

James said Head tried to call for emergency help and tried to help care for Bacon after the shooting.

Fortney said Bacon had taken pictures during the confrontation. The last photo, she said, was one of Head putting his hand over Bacon's camera.

"Mr. Head made several decisions that day, and they weren't last-second ones," Fortney said. "He made the decision to get off that tractor and advance on a man. He made a decision to shoot that man."

A jury of nine men and three women was chosen from a group of 70 that sat through jury selection, which took up most of the day. They filled the courtroom being used by Judge Gary Dial.

The prosecution opened its case by calling two witnesses -- Evan Glasgow, presiding commissioner for the Knox County Commission, and Knox County Clerk Marlene Spory.

Glasgow testified to what he told Head, Roper and Bacon. He said that while a part of Knox County Road 341 that runs east is still open, a northern fork of the road near Bacon's property was never part of the road.

James asked Spory about something that Bacon said at one of the Knox County Commission meetings. Bacon allegedly asked commissioners if their ruling meant that he could shoot Head the next time he came on his property.

Spory said Bacon did say that, but she thought that he said it in jest.

Head appeared at ease throughout the day. He had several friends and family members in attendance to support him. Family members of Bacon also appeared after jury selection was completed.