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September 14, 2013

Judge jails witness as murder trial takes a turn for the dramatic

NORMAN — After repeated warnings to avoid the television-like drama and just answer the questions or face wearing orange jail coveralls, a Cleveland County District Judge on Friday found a prosecution witness in direct contempt of court and jailed her for five days.

Out of jurors’ view, county sheriff’s deputies handcuffed Shannon Davis on the witness stand in District Judge Tracy Schumacher’s courtroom. It came on the second day of testimony in the first degree murder trial of Russell Lee Blackwood.

Blackwood, 41, of Purcell, is accused of killing Gary Norton Sr., 55, of Lexington, early on Easter Sunday morning in 2012.

Davis, who was told to avoid the drama and just answer the attorneys’ questions, testified she still loved the defendant Blackwood, with whom she has a child. She said they had talked often while he was in jail but she had not visited or talked to him in recent weeks out of respect for their child.

Before becoming combative with defense attorney Charles Douglas, Davis testified that law enforcement officers searched her home. She said some clothes were missing and some were on the floor.

Earlier Friday, testimony began with one of the victim’s sons, Josh Norton, 35, who took the stand wearing an orange jumpsuit and with hands manacled. Norton is serving time for larceny of domestic animals, accessory after the fact and possession of cocaine.

The younger Norton told Assistant District Attorney Allie Spears and the 12-person jury that Blackwood, 41, had threatened him the night before Norton’s father, Gary Norton Sr., was murdered.

According to Norton, he was at his father’s house April 7 along with his girlfriend, Tonya Pittman. Norton said his ex-wife, Shannon Davis began “blowing up” his father’s cell phone with calls trying to reach the younger Norton.

After ignoring several calls, Norton testified that Gary Norton Sr. finally gave his son the phone and told him to handle it. Josh Norton said Davis was screaming over the phone that he needed to hurry and come over because she was going to kill herself because her old man was going to take her kid.

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