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September 10, 2013

Murder trial set to begin

NORMAN — Jury selection is expected to begin 9 a.m. Wednesday in District Judge Tracy Schumacher’s courtroom in the first-degree murder trial of Russell Lee Blackwood, of Purcell.

Blackwood, 41, is accused of shooting Gary Norton Sr. to death on Easter Sunday 2012 in concert and together with Richard Dean Lansdale, 38, also of Purcell. Prosecutors allege Blackwood fired a pistol at Norton’s Lexington home in a drive-by shooting.

Norton, 55, died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Blackwood allegedly threatened to kill Norton’s son several times prior to the shooting, according to an affidavit filed with the charges. A witness who was with Blackwood and Lansdale during the incident told investigators she heard the two men talking about Norton’s son and they said he had forced himself onto Blackwood’s girlfriend and they were going to get even with him, records show.

The witness was shown a semi-automatic pistol while she was in the vehicle with the two men, was given earplugs and told by the men to put them in because it was going to get noisy in the car, the affidavit said.

She told police she then saw Lansdale take the pistol from the glove box, and as they drove slowly through the alleyway on the back side of Norton’s house, Lansdale opened fire with the pistol. The witness said she could feel the spent casing hitting her back, the affidavit said.

All three of them later drove to Purcell Lake to clean out the car and get rid of the spent casings, records show.

When Lansdale was interviewed by investigators, he admitted to the drive-by shooting and his story matched the witness’ account of the incident, records show.

According to an enhancement page filed with the murder charge, Lansdale had previously been convicted of or pled guilty to several violent offenses including two assault and battery charges.

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