Calmer arrives to court on second day of trial
Cheryl Calmer was sitting on her back porch when she heard gunshots.
Then the shooting stopped and she saw her son, her only child.
There was blood on his shorts.
He said, “I love you mom. I’ve shot one of them and I need to go back,” Cheryl Calmer testified Tuesday in the second day of her son’s murder trial.
Christopher Keith Calmer, 49, is charged with murder and a string of other charges stemming from the Sept. 13, 2014, shooting at his parents’ home near Interstate 75 and Pate Road in Monroe County.
Calmer’s uncle, Tommie McRae, testified Monday that he’d called 911 after seeing his nephew with a gun to his head.
If convicted, Calmer could face the death penalty.
The trial is estimated to last about two weeks.
Cheryl Calmer said her son had threatened to harm himself before, but he’d never gone through with the threats.
It wasn’t until a few days before the shooting that she realized he’d taken his father’s gun from her bedroom drawer.
He’d never been violent or in any trouble.
Her son had lived with her and his father since 2008.
Suffering from back and neck pain, Christopher Calmer had become a recluse.
He rarely went outside. Vibrations from the road made car trips unbearable, she said.
Without medical insurance and after being denied disability benefits, her son resorted to having medical consultations online instead of going to see a doctor. He was legally prescribed pain medication, his mother testified.
She admitted also sharing pain pills prescribed to Calmer’s father with her son and obtaining medicine online under the guise that the pills were for her so he could take them.
His physical condition steadily declined, Cheryl Calmer said.
By Sept. 13, 2014, Christopher Calmer’s pain was at such a level that he was very depressed, in the worst shape his mother had ever seen, she testified.
“He was out of his mind,” she said. “He was crazy.”
‘We weren’t going to leave him’
Malcolm Walthall was watching TV with his family on the afternoon of the shooting at his house, less than a mile away from the Calmers.
A volunteer fireman and trained first responder, he heard a call go out on his radio saying that help was needed for a suicidal person.
Hopping into his personal vehicle, he drove to the intersection of Christy and Laura lanes, a street over from the Calmers’ home to wait for deputies to arrive and deem the situation safe for first responders.
After seeing deputies arrived, he moved to the end of the Calmers’ driveway.
Waiting with his fire chief, Walthall heard a “pop” and then a “sequence of loud pops,” he testified Tuesday.
Realizing they were gunshots, he looked through the woods and saw Wilson firing his gun. He called in to dispatchers that the deputies were in a gun battle, Walthall said.
After the shots stopped, Walthall headed down the driveway and saw Wilson falling toward his car and Christopher Calmer handcuffed on the ground.
Not seeing the second deputy — later identified as Norris — and learning he was still up at the house, Walthall walked that way.
“I had this eerie feeling,” he said, noting that he didn’t hear any yelling, or any movement.
He found the 24-year-old Norris where he’d collapsed at the threshold of the front door.
Norris wasn’t moving.
Paramedic Matt Perry soon arrived in an ambulance and began helping the injured deputies while also monitoring Calmer’s condition. Calmer had been shot in the leg.
Despite Norris’s grave condition, Perry decided to load him onto a Macon-bound ambulance with Wilson.
“We weren’t going to leave him there,” Perry testified.
Pulling up at The Medical Center, Navicent Health, a line of trauma surgeons was waiting outside.
Inside the hospital, Norris’s father, Bennett Norris, was waiting.
Perry took the elder Norris to the side and told him his son wasn’t going to survive.
“We got down and prayed with him,” Perry said.
A GBI crime scene specialist and GBI shooting reconstruction expert also testified Tuesday.
Testimony is set to continue Wednesday.