Murder trial underway after 2015 death of Montgomery Co. Sheriff

COCHRAN, GA (WTOC) - Nearly two years after the chase and deadly crash, a jury in Cochran, GA will decide if Jim Lowery and Dixie Best should be held responsible for the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor.

Lowery, Best and their attorneys came to court to cast doubt on the testimony of the officers involved in the chase that night. Former Toombs County Deputy Justin Galbreath said he was directing traffic around a broken-down truck that night when Lowery drove up then swerved away to avoid the law.

Galbreath testified that behavior and Lowery's broken tail light led him to pursue and Lowery took off at high speed.

"Who's to say why he ran. But it was my job to find out," said Galbreath.

Assistant District Attorney Lauren Shurling told jurors in her opening statement Sheriff Ladson O'Connor was off duty but heard the radio traffic about the chase and went to assist. She said Best helped steer the truck to allow Lowery to shoot at officers and O'Connor crashed trying to dodge rounds from Lowery's rifle.

Under cross-examination, Lowery's attorney questions whether that justified the chase.

Best's lawyer portrayed her as a hostage until the truck crashed and Lowery took off on foot. But prosecutors contended Lowery could not have shot at officers in the chase unless Best steered the speeding truck.

"I noticed the defendant lean out the window with a long gun and he opened fire and took a shot at me," said Montgomery County Deputy Brett Humphrey.

Shurling told jurors that Lowery's shots caused Sheriff O'Connor to swerve and crash therefore the pair killed him, not any off-duty drinks he'd had earlier in the day.

We'll keep you updated throughout the trial and let you know the jury's verdict.

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