Austin American-Statesman reporter CIARA O’ROURKE has been following the Hays County murder trial of Mark David Simmons, now in its second week in 428th District Judge Bill Henry’s court. Prosecutors say Simmons is a white supremacist and militant extremist who killed his friend, Buda resident Steven Woelfel, and then set his house on fire. Simmons is expected to take the stand today, Thursday, April 5.
Hays Free Press editor WES FERGUSON is also at the trial. He is providing updates through the day here:
Murder defendant Mark David Simmons told jurors he expects to be punished for shooting his friend and added that he is not afraid that he might spend the rest of his life behind bars if found guilty.
In his agitated state, he said, he shot Buda resident Steven Woelfel in perceived self-defense.
“I’m trying to present to you the truth, and as far as my charges go, I’m saying that I perceived a threat from Steven in a highly agitated, erratic state, that Steven was in the same state, and that state had been going on so long it was way past a mood or a little thing,” Simmons said from the witness box, facing the jury. “It was something that was permanently part of my life. I reacted too quickly. Steven’s gun was unloaded, and in three seconds he was dead. My defense is self-defense, even though Steven’s gun was unloaded.”
He then told the jury he expects to be punished for Woelfel’s killing.
“I don’t expect to not be punished for these things,” he said. Once the trial has concluded, he said, he may never see freedom again. “I’m not afraid of that. And I’m not afraid of the truth, even though the state is afraid of the truth.”
Presiding Judge Bill Henry has instructed murder defendant Mark David Simmons to stop asking questions about National Guard airplanes and helicopters flying around the Knoxville, Tenn., area.
Simmons is trying to prove the National Guard led a campaign of harassment against him, but Henry noted it was not a valid line of defense for shooting his friend years later.
Simmons played videos for the jurors showing himself in Knoxville and showing the planes flying overhead.
“The National Guard has made a game out of trying to break my spirit, and guess what? Little George Bush has been voted out of office and I’m still here,” Simmons said in the video shown on two large screens in the courtroom.
But Henry told him to “move on” to another subject.
Ware has been dismissed, and Simmons is set to take the stand
During a court recess, defendant Mark David Simmons argued that prosecutors had tried to hide evidence in his murder case.
“I object to the jury not knowing the state’s behavior, and I’m sitting here saying there’s a lot of evidence missing, and they’re caught multiple times withholding evidence and there’s still a bunch missing,” he said. “It’s everything I need to prove my case that the Guard was harassing me.”
Presiding Judge Bill Henry ruled that Simmons could not ask his next defendant about his accusation in the jury’s presence.
A Buda murder defendant is “close to a genius” but paranoid and delusional, his former probation officer testified Monday morning.
Ron Zajac, now the deputy director of the Brazos County Adult Probation Department, said defendant Mark David Simmons began calling him repeatedly in January 2004 to complain that he was being monitored by state and federal authorities when he moved to Tennessee to be near his young daughter.
“You said law enforcement was continuing to watch you no matter where you went, whether in planes or helicopters,” Zajac testified. “You were very upset. At one point you even accused me of instigating it.”
Many of Simmons’ phone calls and messages were very aggressive, Zajac said, with Simmons screaming at times.
“Well that’s definitely a character flaw,” admitted Simmons, who is representing himself.
Simmons, 52, has pleaded not guilty, claiming that years of U.S. government intrusion altered his mental state to shoot his longtime friend Steven Woelfel, and then set his house in Buda on fire.
On Thursday, he wore a crisp plaid shirt and walked with the help of a metal cane. During about an hour of examination and cross-examination, Simmons asked a string of questions — including one about a staph infection and his large open wound that didn’t heal for 12 years — but prosecutor Fred Weber objected to many of them.
Simmons said he was trying to establish his mental state. Presiding Judge Bill Henry sustained the objection, however, and Simmons groaned and leaned back in his seat.
Choking back tears, Simmons said the government was teasing him with flyovers and monitoring for years.
“If I was trying to go straight and get out of the gun business and raise my kid and be a dad,” Simmons asked Zajac, “would you speculate that it was pretty creepy and underhanded thing to do to let the National Guard and civil air traffic control to sit there and harass me again and again?”
Simmons is expected to take the stand later today.Email | Print