, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

May 26, 2013

OKC pastor faces murder trial

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A judge ordered the pastor of an Oklahoma City church to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge after hearing conflicting testimony from the dead man's wife and girlfriend.

Michael Elder, 53, is accused of shooting Gary Davidson, 27, last Feb. 20. Davidson was married to Elder's daughter April at the time.

The Oklahoman reported Saturday that Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott ordered Elder to stand trial. At a hearing Friday, April Davidson told Elliott that she feared for her life while fighting with Davidson in the front seat of a pickup truck.

"He started pushing on me, pulling on me, trying to get the vehicle," April Davidson said. "I was scared."

The woman told Elliott that Gary Davidson had been physically abusive toward her and that he had threatened her.

She told the judge she heard one shot and then Davidson crawled into the back seat before falling out of the truck. She said she did not see her father fire the weapon.

But Davidson's girlfriend, Judith Chism, told Elliott that Davidson tried to exit the vehicle from the back seat while Elder stood next to an open door, and said there were four to five gunshots.

"He falls out on his forehead, straight down," she said. "It was unbelievable to watch."

She also told the judge that April Davidson sent her two text messages after Gary Davidson's death and that she had shared the reported the messaging to police.

Crime scene investigator Sgt. Everett Baker said Davidson was shot three times, including twice while in the back seat. Baker said the shots were fired from close range through the front passenger-side window. Prosecutors have said two shots passed through a passenger seat headrest.

Gary Davidson was unarmed.

The Davidsons had been separated for nine months before the shooting and had a 2-year-old daughter.

In an unsuccessful attempt to have Elder released on bond, defense lawyers argued that pastor of The Cross Baptist Church fired the gun in self-defense. Elder was being held without bail at the Oklahoma County Jail.


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