JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — A murder trial in Jackson County is now officially underway after two years of controversy.
Tracy Lawrence is on trial for allegedly shooting and killing two young men on his property back in 2016.
Is it self-defense or murder? That’s the question laid out for the jury in the first day of Lawrence’s trial.
In their opening statement, prosecutors asked the jury to consider Lawrence’s actions the morning of June 8, 2016.
“What did he know, and when did he know it,” said Jackson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Idema.
Lawrence says he saw two men trying to get into his truck and garage outside his home in Springport Township.
He grabbed a rifle and yelled at them to get off his property.
The 55-year-old says it appeared they were running toward him so he opened fire, killing the men, who were both 18-years-old.
But prosecutors say they were killed while trying to run away.
“He kept firing after the other one. His statement to the detective: ‘I followed him. I kept shooting’,” Idema said.
The defense says Lawrence was scared and acted in self-defense.
“Trouble came to him, and he wasn’t left with too many choices,” said Jared Hopkis, a defense attorney for Lawrence.
It’s suspected the men also broke into a camper and mobile home on the property.
The defense says Lawrence believed his home was in danger.
“Those two men were there for the sole purpose of committing felonies,” Hopkins said.
Testimony began with a 911 call made by Lawrence’s wife, Ethel Lawrence, after he told her what happened.
“He was crying he was very upset,” Lawrence said.
Investigators spent the rest of the afternoon describing the scene for the jury and the police response that followed.
The trial continues the rest of the week with more testimony.
Lawrence is expected to take the stand to give testimony sometime during the trial.