CHARLESTON -- James Todd Shafer told police that someone else fired the first shots during a confrontation that led to gunfire that killed his girlfriend.
But inconsistencies in Shafer's story caused concerns, an officer said, and led him to question if there was "anyone to be shooting at," according to evidence at Shafer's jury trial Friday.
Jurors saw a video recording of Shafer's questioning by police just after the June 18, 2016, shooting that killed Ciara Faires. Mattoon police Deputy Chief Sam Gaines also testified about the questioning.
During the interview, Shafer, 26, claimed someone outside the apartment at 313 S. 21st St., Mattoon, where the confrontation took place, fired four shots from a gun into the apartment.
He maintained that after officers told him investigators at the scene found signs of only the two shots Shafer admitted firing from inside the apartment and no indication of shots fired outside.
"There were gunshots," Shafer replied. "I don't care what anybody says."
He then offered possible explanations of the shots fired into the air or blanks being used.
He later admitted that, in contrast to what he first claimed, he didn't see someone trying to enter the apartment through a window. That was after police told him there was no broken glass or other indications at the scene that someone had attempted that.
During his testimony, Gaines said the part he found "the most concerning" what that Shafer said he the people outside were alarmed when the first shots were fired and ran from the scene.
Had that been the case, Shafer wouldn't needed to return fire because "no one would be outside to be shooting at," Gaines said during questioning by Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower.
There's no indication that Faires, who was 23, was involved in the confrontation but she was outside the apartment at the time. Earlier trial evidence indicated that Dion Dixon, the apartment's resident, made her leave just before because of some kind of argument.
The evidence indicates that Shafer fired two shots from inside through the apartment's door. One hit Faires in her left side and caused fatal injuries to both her lungs and her heart before exiting her right side and lodging in her right arm.
Shafer is charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with the incident.
In the police interview, Shafer said he went about a day earlier to the home of Shawn D. Adamson and saw "guns everywhere." Another man he didn't know gave guns to Shafer and another man to commit a robbery that they never carried out, he said.
Shafer said he didn't know who was outside the apartment when the confrontation later took place. But he added that he "had a pretty good idea" that it was "Puff's boys," referring to a name by which Adamson is known and believing they were after the gun Shafer received.
However, he later said he did recognize one of them as Matthew S. Cook. Adamson was also charged with first-degree murder and other offenses and has a March 5 trial scheduled, while Cook and another man, Kevin W. Johnson, pleaded guilty to reduced charges.
During Public Defender Anthony Ortega's cross examination, Gaines said the investigation confirmed that Shafer and the other man, Brett Magana, did go to Adamson's residence the day Shafer claimed.
It also showed that Shafer and Magana also went to the home of the person the others wanted robbed but no robbery took place, Gaines said.
Also during Ortega's questioning, Gaines said the account Dixon gave to police just after the shooting wasn't consistent with his testimony earlier in the trial.
In his testimony, Dixon said the only shots he heard were the ones Shafer fired. But Gaines said he told police that he thought there were four other shots.
Bower announced Friday that the prosecution was resting its case, and Ortega then started the defense's evidence by calling Cook to testify.
Cook acknowledged the he pleaded guilty to the reduced charge but said it was because he "wanted to get out of jail." He admitted that he was at the shooting scene but denied taking part in other attempts to track down Shafer to retrieve the gun.
The defense's case is scheduled to continue on Monday but the trial should conclude early next week.
Shafer faces three different murder charges and is accused of firing shots knowing that could kill or injure someone and cause a death, as well as shooting to intentionally kill or harm someone.
Shafer, who's been jailed since his arrest the day of the shooting, would face a prison sentence of 45 years to life if convicted of first-degree murder. The other charges against him are aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a weapon by a felon.