Oktibbeha woman not guilty in 2008 killing

By The Associated Press

STARKVILLE — An Oktibbeha County woman has been found innocent in a 2008 killing after claiming self-defense.

Twenty-two-year-old Leslie Sharp shot and killed Christopher Cole on Nov. 10, 2008, on a rural county road.

The Dispatch reports that a jury acquitted her Friday in Starkville.

The shooting followed a confrontation between the 20-year-old Cole, Sharp and two girls Cole was involved with. Sharp was in a vehicle with the two girls and Cole. Sharp said she shot Cole seven times after he pulled out a revolver and fired. Cole died at the scene.

Sharp was initially tried in May, but a juror got sick during deliberation and needed to be hospitalized, prompting Judge Lee Howard to declare a mistrial.

Sharp’s family declined comment Friday.

Unlike the first trial, the jury had the option to find Sharp guilty of manslaughter if it could not reach a verdict on the murder charge.

The crux of the trial was whether Cole threatened Sharp or any of the other girls in the car and prompted Sharp to get out and fire.

The three eyewitnesses testified that they never felt threatened by Cole, despite saying he fired his weapon and was yelling and cursing at them for confronting him.

The defense’s case was strengthened by the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne, who concluded, based on the original autopsy report and Sharp’s testimony, that the first bullets fired hit Cole in the front of his body, while the two entrance wounds to his back were among the last to occur.