Consequently, the court upheld the father’s conviction and life sentence for second-degree murder of the son, who was an employee of the Eunice Walmart at the time of his death and lived in a shed behind his father’s house.
The dispute between father and son arose because Scott wanted to remove items, belonging to his younger brother, from the residence, according to trial testimony.
Michael Bushnell’s wife Debra was living elsewhere with the couple’s two younger children, and Scott slept in a shed behind the father’s residence, the court said.
Evidence presented at trial indicated that the first shot was a warning shot into the front doorjamb.
The second shot grazed Scott’s head from back to front, and the third shot struck himin the upper back and was fatal.
At trial, Michael Bushnell took the stand and recounted the incident in detail. However, he stated that he did not remember firing the second shot and did not remember shooting Scott in the back. Scott had called his mother, and she heard the gunshots over the phone.
On appeal, Michael Bushnell argued that the verdict should have been manslaughter because the evidence showed provocation sufficient to impair the defendant’s judgment and did not establish that his “blood had cooled at the time of the shooting.”
The circuit court held that that determination is up to the jury.
Michael Bushnell testified that on the night of the offense, he had gone to sleep on the couch at approximately 9 p.m., but Scott awakened him by kicking his feet.
Scott then addressed him in coarse language, demanding various items such as “the checkbook,” a book sack, and school clothes. Defendant further testified that Scott was not normally in the residence (a trailer) at night. Scott then went to a table and started eating and repeatedly “looking at his arm as if he had a watch telling me time is running out.”
According to Michael Bushnell, he called 911 when Scott went to the bathroom. Scott began behaving more calmly, so when a 911 dispatcher called back, Michael stated that he needed no assistance.
As soon as Michael hung up, he alleges that Scott told him “you gonna die tonight,” left the house, went to his car, then went to a padlocked shed and started beating on it.
The father testified that Scott had been able to knock the padlock open in the past and that there was a shotgun in that shed. Thus, the father went to his bedroom and retrieved a shotgun he kept there.
According to Michael, Scott re-entered the residence, uttered more threats,and then ran out again. Defendant fired a warning shot that struck low on the front doorjamb, but Scott again entered the trailer “trying to get the gun.”
Michael testified that he walked backwards and “the gun went off.” He then called 911.
The court noted that the parties appear to agree that Michael and Scott were having no problems earlier on the day of the offense, which arose in part out of Michael’s actions regarding his younger children and his wife.
“He checked his other son out of school early and later tried to force Debra to deliver his daughter to him. When the shooting occurred, Scott was trying to retrieve his younger brother’s shoes and school books. Logically, the offense at issue was connected to the events earlier that day. In turn, those events arose from the family’s troubled history,” the judges concluded.