Head takes stand to recount shooting, says he had no other option

Posted: Apr. 10, 2014 11:19 pm Updated: Apr. 25, 2014 12:14 am
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

MOBERLY, Mo. — Glenn Head took the witness stand in his own defense and told jurors Thursday that he had no option other than to shoot Bill Bacon during an altercation in December 2012 near Novelty in rural Knox County.

Head, charged with second-degree murder, testified for about 90 minutes during a marathon session that lasted nearly 10 hours in the Randolph County Courthouse. Both the state and defense rested their cases on the fourth day of the trial, and the jury of nine men and three women were to return Friday morning to hear closing arguments and begin deliberations.

Under questioning by his attorney, Charlie James, Head testified that Bacon “hit me in the head and knocked me backwards” during an ongoing argument over a land dispute. Head said he was “dazed” and that Bacon “came at me again, and I shoved him as hard as I could. That’s when I retrieved my revolver from my overalls pocket.”

Head, a 60-year-old former St. Louis-area police officer, testified that he “hollered at (Bacon) to stay back,” but that Bacon “came at me and tried to grab my revolver.”

Seconds later, Head said he fired his 38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver twice, striking Bacon in the leg and abdomen. Bacon was pronounced dead at the Kirksville Regional Medical Center about 90 minutes later.

“He came towards me and acted like he was going to take control of my firearm,” Head said. “I thought I was going to lose control of my firearm.”

Head testified that Bacon pushed him about a month earlier in front of a Missouri Department of Conservation officer during a dispute over land access. Head said he asked the Knox County prosecuting attorney’s office to file charges against Bacon, but none were filed.

It was after that incident, Head said, when both he and friend Don Roper began to carry weapons if they thought they may be near Bacon’s land.

Both Head and Roper testified that they were scared of the 67-year-old Bacon. They both said Jo Fortney, Knox County’s assistant prosecuting attorney, warned them to stay away from Bacon.

“(Fortney) said, ‘I want you two to know that Bill Bacon is on a rampage. You both need to be very careful,’ ” Head said.

James spent much of the day eliciting testimony from witnesses who said Bacon was “out of control” on the day of the November 2012 incident.

“I couldn’t reason with him,” Roper said. “He pushed me in the chest with his finger and started calling me names and other obnoxious things. They were threatening and completely out of line and off the wall. I had no reason to be called those names.”

On the day of the fatal shooting, Head said he was spreading fertilizer on land he and Roper owned when Bacon drove up and began taking pictures. Head said Bacon stepped in front of his tractor when he tried to leave the field on a road Bacon claimed was on his property.

“I thought I could reason with Bill and be on my way,” Head said.

Head said he stepped off the tractor and said to Bacon, “Come on, Bill. This has already been settled.”

Head said Bacon told him the land issue had not been settled and took a photo as Head approached him. Bacon also said he was going to take Head’s tractor, the defendant said. That argument escalated and ended with the shooting.

Head later struggled to explain his actions under cross-examination by Assistant Attorney General Tim Anderson, who is trying the case with Fortney. Anderson claimed Head told four different versions of what happened the day of the shooting, which Head disputed. Anderson said Head described the hit Bacon gave him three different ways.

“My entire head was an extreme ball of pain,” Head said.

Anderson asked Head why he didn’t seek any medical attention at the scene if he was in so much pain. Anderson then asked Head why he didn’t consider another plan of dealing with Bacon that day.

“If you really had feared Bill Bacon, you had a bunch of other options, didn’t you?” Anderson asked.

“I had a right to leave by land and go,” Head said.

“Is it true that Bill Bacon brought a camera and a tape recorder to the scene and you brought a .38 revolver?” Anderson asked.

“I don’t think Bill Bacon was told that Glenn Head was on a rampage,” Head said sharply. “I was told that Bill Bacon was on a rampage and carried my gun on me. At the time, (shooting Bacon) was the only option that I thought I had.”

Head later said that Bacon threatened to kill him during the confrontation. Anderson pointed out that was the first time anyone had heard that Bacon had threatened Head’s life.

Head defended his decision to shoot Bacon.

“I wasn’t wrong at the time,” he said.

Head was the last of 11 witnesses that James called to the stand.

The prosecution rested its case just before lunch. James asked Judge Gary Dial for an acquittal, saying the state had not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That motion that was denied.

The prosecution’s case took three days. The state called 17 witnesses and entered more than 160 documents into evidence.