One of the attorneys representing Billy Nutt at his first-degree murder trial said Monday that when Nutt told the victim, Tabius Love, to go home, “he had not pointed a gun at him.
“Something made him decide to shoot and we’re going to try and figure that out together,” Greg Robinson said during the opening day of Nutt’s trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
Nutt, 76, has pleaded not guilty to killing Love, 23, on Oct. 10, 2013 inside a camper trailer on Cornerstone Road in Altheimer. The camper trailer was occupied by Nutt’s wife, Anna, while Nutt and his granddaughter, Misty Nutt, lived in another mobile home on the property.
Misty Nutt was Love’s girlfriend — a relationship that Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer described as “on again, off again for about three years.”
Gieringer and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Wayne Juneau are representing the state while Robinson and attorney Clint Todd represent Nutt.
“Tabius Love would come out and Billy would take him back to Pine Bluff to separate them,” Gieringer said. “At 3 or 3:30 (a.m.) Tabius Love showed up and Misty and Tabius argued very loudly.”
That argument continued until Misty Nutt ran to Anna Nutt’s trailer and Love tried to push open a door that Misty Nutt was holding, causing her to injure her hand.
“Billy heard Misty yell and went into the camper where Anna was holding the gun,” Gieringer said. “Billy told Love he needed to leave. Words were exchanged. Names were called and Tabius Love told Billy ‘just shoot me’ and Billy did.”
Love was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Eric Belcher.
Associate State Medical Examiner Dr. Frank Peretti, who conducted the autopsy on Love, said the death was caused by a single gunshot wound to the head.
The bullet that was removed from Love was sent to another section of the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, as was a .22-caliber pistol that sheriff’s deputies recovered from the scene. Firearm and Tool Marks Examiner Rebecca Mullen testified Monday that she was able to determine the bullet was a .22-caliber but could not say conclusively that it was fired from the gun recovered because the bullet was too badly damaged.
According to an investigation by the sheriff’s office, Love was shot after he and Billy Nutt were involved in an altercation inside Anna Nutt’s camper trailer that originally started between Love and Misty Nutt, who said she ran to the trailer to get away from Love.
“Had he ever hit you?” Robinson asked Misty Nutt who replied “yes” and also said “yes” when Robinson asked her if Love had ever hit her when either Billy Nutt or Anna Nutt saw him.
Later, Robinson asked Misty Nutt if she were “sometimes afraid of Love?” and again she said “yes.”
When Robinson asked “what kind of times?” Juneau objected and Circuit Judge Berlin Jones sustained the objection before Misty Nutt could answer.
Misty Nutt said she didn’t see the shooting but “heard a pop” and saw Love fall to the floor.
She said she “ran to help (Love) and tried to hold the hole. He was bleeding out of his neck.”
Misty Nutt also said Billy Nutt told her he would “knock the hell out of her if she didn’t stop screaming.”
When she testified, Anna Nutt said Misty had come to her trailer and gone to a bedroom to get away from Love after the two had been involved in an argument that had lasted several hours.
“I heard him coming and met him at the door,” Anna Nutt said. “He shoved me down and tried to get in the bedroom but she was holding the door.
“Billy heard the hollering and came in and I was reaching under the pillow for the pistol,” Anna said. “I was going to kill him (Love). Billy got the gun and was holding it at his side and Tabius said ‘kill me.’ ”
She said Love “had his fists up and after the third time, he said that certain word and told Billy to kill me and all I heard was a pop.”
Asked what “that certain word” was, Anna Nutt said it was “Come on M…F… shoot me.”
Anna Nutt said Billy Nutt then told her it was “time to call the law.”
Also testifying Monday was Sheriff’s Investigator John Bean, who was one of the deputies who interviewed Billy Nutt. Bean described the interior of the camper trailer where the body was found as “unkept,” with clothing on the floor and “pet and body odor.”
Using a series of photographs taken at the scene, Robinson pointed to a series of what appeared to be pads on the floor that Bean said were “puppy pads” to absorb urine. He also testified that there was “no blood on the pads.”
Testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Billy Nutt is expected to testify in his own defense.