October 30, 2020

Mississippi father and son on trial in killings of another father and son

A Mississippi father and son are on trial this week, each charged for their involvement in the 2016 killings of another father and son pair.

Michael McCool, 31, and his father Audy McCool, 53, are standing trial in Pearl River County in connection to the killings of a gun shop owner and his son that occurred over a disagreement over a $25 service fee.

Prosecutors allege Michael McCool shot shop owner Jason McLemore and his 17-year-old son Jacob on Jan. 23, 2016, after they attempted to reclaim a gun after the shop had ordered parts to repair it. An argument over the $25 fee ensued and a gun was drawn.

Prosecutors told jurors Wednesday that Jacob McCool was shot three times during the fight, but was killed by a shot to the head.

The first day of testimony began with statements from Melanie McLemore, the mother and wife of the two men who died as a result of the altercation.

She testified that on the day in question, Audy McCool, then 53, and Michael McCool, then 30, came into McClemore Arms, located on Highway 43 North to pick up a gun Michael had brought in two weeks prior for repairs. During the discussion it was mentioned that Michael believed he could get the part he asked the business to purchase and install for free, so he wanted his gun back.

Melanie testified that when she told Michael he would need to pay a fee to get the gun back because the part had already been ordered, he became incensed. Melanie said Michael declined to pay the fee and became belligerent. Melanie thought it odd that Michael acted as though he didn’t know of the fee because she recalled her husband, Jason, receiving a call from Michael the day prior and she overheard Jason inform Michael of the fee.

She also overheard Jason tell Michael that he would be in the shop until 2 p.m. the next day if Michael wanted to discuss the matter further. Melanie said Michael did not come into the store until after 2 p.m. that day, and pretended to be unaware of the fee.

She testified that when she reached her husband the day of the fight to confirm there was a fee, Michael declined to speak with Jason about the matter. However, as soon as she hung up the phone, Michael became irate again, cussing her out and making indirect threats that he could beat up her husband, leading her to request Jason to come to the store.

According to her testimony, as soon as Jason and her son, Jacob, entered the business and attempted to deal with the situation calmly, Michael attacked Jason physically. That physical altercation eventually resulted in gunshots being fired. Melanie said that her husband typically carried a firearm in plain sight, and her son carried a machete and firearm to deal with snakes.

During her testimony she could not say who fired first, but did say that she recalls her husband falling backward, and smashing the glass to the front door with his head.

Defense attorney Jonathan Adam Miller cross-examined Melanie and asked Melanie for specifics on who shot first.

“This was not a spectator sport, all hell was breaking loose,” Melanie responded.

Miller later asked why she had gun residue on her hands, as determined by forensic testing. And when Miller made comments that seemed to insinuate that she had fired a gun during the altercation, she replied, “I also believe that if I was shooting people that day, those two sons of (expletive deleted) wouldn’t be sitting there today.”

While Melanie said she could not remember who shot first during Tuesdays proceedings, testimony from Cpl. Jason Lee and Officer David Bean stated that Melanie told them Michael shot first. Both officers also testified that Michael told the officers at the scene that Jason shot first.

Michael is facing two counts of murder, while Audy faces two counts of accessory after the fact of murder.

The Picayune Item newspaper contributed to this article.