Lexington man argues for his life

Published: Nov. 8, 2007 at 10:42 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2007 at 11:29 PM EST
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Lexington County man is defending himself against murder charges.

Norman Starnes was convicted of killing two men in Pelion in 1996, and he was sentenced to death. The State Supreme court overturned his conviction, ruling the jury got incorrect instructions.

Now he has a new trial, and he's defending himself.

Thursday in court, Starnes spoke to an investigator who questioned him about the disappearance of two men in Pelion in 1996.

Starnes: "It's pretty obvious I was lying to you at that stage, is that correct?
Investigator: "Seems like."
Starnes: "If I would have told you at that time you came to interview me that I shot and killed Bill Welborn, what would have happened? You would have arrested me on the spot, is that correct?"

The 42-year-old now says he killed Bill Welborn and Jarrod Champlin, but argues it was self-defense in a drug deal gone bad.

Gwen Bailey is Starnes' ex-girlfriend. She told deputies Starnes told her he killed the two men. "He proceeded to get his bullets and stated at the time they were going to be dead and he was going to kill him."

She said Starnes made her drive to Aiken County with him to bury the bodies. "He walked up to the bodies - and kicked one," she said. "And then he urinated on them."

Starnes tried to break her apart.

Starnes: "Were you inside the residence ... when Bill Welborn and Jarrod Champlin were killed?"
Bailey: "No, sir."
Starnes: "Did you tell Detective McNair in your original statement when he talked to you that it sounded like self-defense?
Bailey: "Yes, sir."

Starnes looks the part of a lawyer. And he's quick to question what he sees as unfair. It may be his last chance to save his life.

In the courtroom, you can tell Starnes has knowledge of some court procedure. But we could also see the judge and attorneys getting frustrated with him during cross examination - questioning the relevance of some of his questions.

And, we noticed that unlike other lawyers, Starnes stays away from the jury box.

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Reported by Jennifer Wilson

Posted by Chantelle Janelle