COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A new witness who came forward during the murder trial of a former Ohio sheriff's deputy testified Tuesday that he saw the man who was killed not long before the shooting but that he didn't see a gun, leaving the defendant as the only person saying that Casey Goodson Jr. was armed.
Jason Meade, who is white, is charged with murder and reckless homicide in the December 2020 killing of Goodson, who was Black, in Columbus.
Meade maintained during his testimony that he feared for his life and the lives of others after Goodson waved a gun at him as the two drove past each other. He testified that he pursued Goodson in his unmarked vehicle and that Goodson aimed a gun at him again, right before the shooting occurred.
According to his family and prosecutors, Goodson was holding a sandwich bag in one hand and his keys in the other when he was fatally shot. They do not dispute that Goodson could have been carrying a gun and say he had a license to carry a firearm.
Christopher Corne, who works for a heating and cooling company, testified for the prosecution Tuesday that on the day of the shooting, he saw Goodson in his truck at an intersection. Corne said Goodson was “driving erratically” with at least one hand off the wheel. He said Goodson appeared to be singing or dancing to some music in the car. But, he testified, he didn't see anything in Goodson's hands.
Meade, who is a pastor at a Baptist church, shot the 23-year-old Goodson a total of six times, including five times in the back, as Goodson tried to enter his grandmother’s house, police have said. Goodson fell into his grandmother’s kitchen and his gun was found on the kitchen floor with the safety lock engaged, prosecutors said.
Corne testified that he did not see the shooting but that he later saw flashing lights and a large police presence. He said he did not stay in the area or reach out to authorities in the days following the shooting.
During cross-examination, Corne admitted he had changed some details of his story. He initially told prosecutors that Goodson had one hand on the wheel but he testified in court that Goodson had both hands off it.
The trial was put on hold late last week after Corne came forward and lawyers wrangled over whether he should be allowed to testify. Judge David Young eventually agreed he could take the stand.
The jury was informed that Corne had been watching television news coverage of the trial and that he had posted about it on Facebook and had reached out to Goodson's mother on social media but didn't hear back. He said he later deleted his remarks and his social media pages.
When asked if he had an agenda and why he came forward, Corne said it was a last-minute decision and that he had some concerns about participating in such a high-profile case.
“I just felt like it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I felt like somebody needed to hear what I saw and had to say.”
The prosecution rested its case following testimony by another rebuttal witness Tuesday afternoon, and Young delivered his instructions to the jury. Closing arguments were scheduled for Wednesday morning.