The trial of a Jasper man accused of murdering his wife began this morning with claims the victim pulled her gun on her husband first.
Leonard "Lenny" Joeris is charged with first degree murder in the February 2010 shooting death of his wife, Lorrie Joeris.
The state claims that Joeris shot his wife in the head with a .38 caliber Derringer pistol at their Jasper home.
Initially, Joeris told police that he and his wife had just finished taking a walk near their home when the incident occurred. Joeris told authorities he heard a loud noise and looked behind him to see that his wife had been shot. Lorrie customarily brought a .38 caliber pistol with her on walks as protection.
Today, defender Baya Harrison told the jury it was actually Lorrie Joeris who pulled a gun on her husband. Harrison said Lorrie had previously told Leonard she wanted a divorce so that she could be with her 17-year-old boyfriend. Harrison said Leonard confronted her the evening of her death outside their home and told her he planned to fight for custody of their two children. According to Harrison, that's when Lorrie pulled a gun from her jacket and a struggle ensued before Lorrie fell to the ground.
"It was a very emotional situation," Harrison told the jury.
Leonard Joeris then kicked the gun from Lorrie's hand. The weapon discharged, hitting her in the head, according to Harrison.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Craig Jacobson said Leonard had become aware of his wife's affair a few months before her death. Jacobson said it was jealousy and fear of losing his daughter, with whom he was extremely close, that pushed him over the edge and caused him to shoot his wife.
Jacobson said in the days after the incident, Leonard gave varying accounts of what happened the evening of Feb. 21, when Lorrie was shot, to six different individuals.
Three witnesses to those accounts took the stand Monday morning.
Corporal Mike Vickers with the Jasper Police Department, Hamilton County Paramedic Deon Godwin, and Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigator Karen Williams gave their account of what Leonard Joeris told them of the events leading up to Lorrie's death. Each account varied as far as where Leonard Joeris was located at the time he heard the gun go off.
Further witnesses will be called throughout the afternoon.