Accused murderer and arsonist back on trial - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Accused murderer and arsonist back on trial

September 16, 2002

Sumter County - For the second time in a little more than six months Antwan Bridges enters the courtroom, on trial for murdering David Warren and robbing and setting fire to his Shoney's restaurant. A big problem for Bridges though, he still hasn't paid his lawyer.

Bill Murray told the judge, "I asked to withdraw from the case this summer." But Judge Rucker Smith says Murray has to stay on the case.

Murray also says his client can't afford expenses for an expert witness, who would testify that Warren could have been killed by an exploding butane lighter.

"I'm sorry, Mr.Murray," Judge Smith said. "Unless you can show me a report, that says it was caused by a Bic lighter your credibility is not going to be good enough to bring someone up from Florida, you've deceived me before." "I've never deceived anyone," Murray responded saying Smith' statement was unfair.

The trial did get underway with Murray still defending his client in opening statements saying there was no evidence he was at the Shoney's shortly after closing the Thanksgiving weekend back in 1996.

"There are no fingerprints, no DNA evidence," Murray said.

He continued working towards the exploding lighter defense theory, in questioning the only other employee who was inside when the fire started, about his manager's smoking habits.

"How'd he light his cigarettes?" Murray said. "He used a lighter," Fagan responded.

Fagan also testified that he never saw or heard anyone in the restaurant before he heard a pop and his manager yelled fire. The prosecution's first witness was the widow of Herschel Walker, a Shoney's cook who prosecutors say joined Bridges in the act. Mrs. Walker saying she picked Bridges up that night and then the two went off together to buy some marijuana.

"They were wearing dark clothing," she said.

Prosecutors pointing out that when Walker returned home, around the time of the fire, he took his second shower of the night.

Herschel Walker was shot and killed in West Palm Beach just a few months after the Shoney's fire. Antwan Bridges was not indicted until 1999, and went on trial for murder, armed robbery and arson back in February. That trial ended in a hung jury and was declared a mistrial.

posted at 6:15 p.m. by dave.d'marko@walb.com