HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF)- A new trial has begun for a man who allegedly shot and killed a Myrtle Beach police officer during an altercation 12 years ago.
Luzenski Allen Cottrell, 36, was tried before a new jury Monday afternoon for fatally shooting 28-year-old officer Joe McGarry in 2002.
Cottrell listened as officers who were there the night of crime retold how the fight took only seconds to turn deadly.
The state called five people to the stand Monday, and the defense cross-examined each of them. Three Myrtle Beach Police officers and two SLED officers who responded to the crime scene after the shooting were called to the stand.
Sergeant Mike Guthinger testified that he was with Officer Joe McGarry from the beginning. He assisted him on a traffic stop earlier in the night when the two then decided to make a quick pit stop.
"Just going to run in and run out real quick," Guthinger said. "I didn't even intend on getting anything. I was thinking he was going to get his coffee and take off."
But upon arrival, the two spotted Cottrell ,and McGarry quickly recognized him as a suspect from a shooting in Horry County.
"...and he went from you know, happy Joe…to police mode," Guthinger said.
Guthinger explained in court they followed Cottrell and two friends out of Dunkin Donuts and how McGarry's attempt to get Cottrell's information quickly turned into a struggle. Guthinger acted it out for the court to show where McGarry's hands were on Cottrell. Only a few steps behind him, Guthinger tried to help.
"My mindset was - Joe's got the right side, I'm going to control that left hand. I'm going to go and get that left hand," Guthinger said.
Guthinger found they were standing in a triangle.
"Both of them faced off. Both of them squared off at each other. We're in that triangle position again. Next thing I knew I saw the gun flash…heard a couple shots…I watched Joe get shot in the face," Guthinger said.
The defense contended that McGarry's firearm went off accidentally before Cottrell opened fire.
While listening to what was likely Officer McGarry's last voice recording, him calling in on the radio with the spelling of Cottrell's name, his loved ones had to leave the courtroom, notably upset.
Throughout the rest of the trial, evidence was brought before the jury: the weapon, the ammo and magazines, and then what was gathered from SLED.
Retired South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Officer, David Warren Black, also took the stand Monday. He assisted the crime scene the night McGarry was shot. Black said he found a firearm that was loaded and ready to fire that fatal night.
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson hopes Tuesday will mark the end of testimony and penalty stages will begin.
If Cottrell is convicted in McGarry's death, he could face anywhere from 30 years in jail to the death penalty.
Cottrell was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 2005, but the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2008 since the jury was not allowed to consider a possible verdict of voluntary manslaughter.