A prosecutor on Monday told jurors the 2014 slaying of a North Carolina man whose body was found near Georgetown presented a scenario “so full of surprises that it was almost like a movie.”
The case against Kevin Palmer combines a major drug scheme with very violent people, a dirty military policeman and the defendant’s desire to be a drug kingpin that led him to kill his “friend,” William Whitsett, Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon told a Chatham County Superior Court jury.
Between Dec. 13, 2014, when Whitsett came to Savannah to stay with Palmer and his girlfriend, until Dec. 23, 2014, when an AT&T worker found the victim’s shoeless body in a ditch, investigators found a direct line to the man on trial, Breedon said.
“Whitsett was murdered. There’s no about it,” Breedon said. “It all points to this defendant.”
Palmer, 24, is on trial for murder and related charges in the slaying of Whitsett on or about December 23, 2014.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Testimony before Judge Louisa Abbot and the jury was to begin at 9 a.m. today.
The victim, a 22-year-old from Spruce Pine, N.C., was shot five times with a .22-caliber weapon and his body dumped behind an apartment complex where Palmer lived with his girlfriend, Genevieve Elizabeth Meeks, 22.
But defense attorney Michael Schiavone told jurors Monday the state’s theory of the case “is just a theory. (Breedon) doesn’t have any evidence to prove it.”
He said the state’s “drug empire” scenario was simply two young men who smoked marijuana and sold the drug to support their own use.
“What they don’t have is who fired that weapon to kill him,” Schiavone said. “What motive did he (Palmer) have to kill his friend?”
The prosecutor contended the victim was a drug dealer who met the defendant in North Carolina, then came to Savannah to sell large quantities of marijuana.
Palmer wanted to be the head of a drug scheme and turned on Whitsett to accomplish that goal, Breedon said.
The state contends Palmer used his .22-caliber weapon to shoot Whitsett, then dumped the shoeless body near the apartment before attempting to cover his own involvement.
Meeks and former Army Spec. Bradley Bates, 24, also were indicted in the case as parties to a crime in the Whitsett slaying.
Meeks has pleaded guilty to drug charges in the case and will be sentenced later. She is expected to testify for the prosecution.
Bates, who Breedon told jurors lived across the hall from Palmer, faces trial later.
Breedon told jurors on Monday that Bates, who was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield as a military policeman, has been discharged from the Army as a result of the case.