CHARLESTON -- James Todd Shafer told his mother during a jail visit he thought other men "were trying to kill me" during a confrontation that instead led to the death of his girlfriend.
Jurors at Shafer's trial Thursday saw a jail security system recording of the visit during which he also said a porch light at the apartment where the confrontation took place was shot and broken.
That contradicted what police officers said during other testimony Thursday, however.
Shafer, 26, of Mattoon faces charges of first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with the June 18, 2016, shooting death of Ciara Faires at an apartment at 313 S. 21st St., Mattoon.
According to evidence at the trial so far, Shafer fired two shots from inside the apartment during a confrontation with three others, who were outside. Faires, a 23-year-old Charleston woman, was also outside the apartment and was the only person hit by a gunshot.
The other three men allegedly involved were also arrested. They include Shawn D. Adamson, 35, who reportedly wanted to confront Shafer about not returning a gun he gave him to commit a robbery.
The jail video the jurors saw Thursday was recorded during a visit by Shafer's mother, Letha Shafer, six days after the shooting. Shafer told his mother "it's not as it appears" and "you know they came at me."
He also admitted having a gun and firing and said he "wouldn't be alive" if he hadn't.
"I know they were trying to kill me," Shafer said. "What was I supposed to do?"
Shafer also claimed he saw one of the other men fire a shot from a gun, which hit and broke a porch light outside the apartment.
But in earlier testimony Thursday, Lt. J.D. McCain of the Mattoon Police Department said he saw the light intact and one of the photographs taken at the scene just after the shooting showed that.
McCain, who heads the MPD crime scene investigation unit, also said two holes in the apartment's door appeared to be caused by gunshots. The path of one showed that it hit Faires but the other followed a higher trajectory and was never located, he said.
The shots' projected paths indicated they came from the apartment's bedroom, McCain also said. That's where Dion Dixon, who lived at the apartment, said during earlier testimony that he and Shafer fled after the confrontation and from where Shafer fired his gun.
Shafer and Faires were apparently visiting Dixon at the time, possibly trying to hide because Shafer knew the other men were searching for him. An argument led to Faires being kicked out but she was still outside the apartment when the shooting took place, the evidence indicates.
MPD officer Daniel St. John, also with the crime scene team, testified Thursday that he saw no broken glass at the apartment. That also referred to what Dixon said was hearing Shafer shout that the other men were trying to enter through a window during the confrontation.
Also Thursday, Marc Pomerance, an Illinois State Police firearms examiner, said tests showed that the 9 mm handgun found in the apartment fired the two shell casings recovered and the bullet that hit Faires.
Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower indicated that the prosecution will likely rest its case on Friday. Public Defender Anthony Ortega already indicated that he has witnesses scheduled to testify on Monday, so the trial will continue into next week.
Shafer has been jailed since his arrest on the day of the shooting. He faces a prison sentence of 45 years to life if convicted of the murder charges.
Meanwhile, the charges against Adamson, which also include first-degree murder, accuse him of starting the confrontation that led to Faires' death. He's also jailed with a March 5 trial scheduled.
The other two charged, Matthew S. Cook and Kevin W. Johnson, reportedly went to the apartment at Adamson's request. Both eventually pleaded guilty to reduced charges that Bower said at the time better reflected their roles in the incident.