Mississippi man gets life for killing optometrist in Walmart

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man was sentenced to life without parole for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend inside the Walmart where she worked as an optometrist.

William Thomas “Tommy” Chisholm was found guilty of capital murder in the killing of Dr. Shauna Witt after just 26 minutes of deliberation on Friday, The Commercial Dispatch reported. Witt ran the eye clinic at Walmart Vision Center in Starkville, and was seeing a patient who brought along her 4-year-old daughter when Chisolm entered the store in January 2018.

Employee Kaylace Beatty Dorman testified that she tried to open a door to enable Witt to escape, but she didn’t make it, the newspaper reported.

“I remember hearing shots,” Dorman told the court. “I remember looking at her, looking at Dr. Witt, and I was thinking, ‘She’s going to get away,’ and then I saw her getting hit.”

Defense attorney Mark Cliett had asked the jury to consider finding the 44-year-old Kosciusko man not guilty by reason of insanity, but the witness he called to speak about Chisholm’s mental capacity, Dr. Jennifer Carroll, was ruled unqualified to testify because she’s a licensed professional counselor, not a psychologist.

“I think the theme of my argument is sometimes things don’t work out,” Cliett said. “I mean in general, in life, in relationships, in this trial, sometimes things don’t work out.”

The optometrist’s family asked prosecutors not to pursue the death penalty, to obtain justice as soon as possible, according to District Attorney Scott Colom.

“Shauna’s motto for her life was ‘Choose joy,’” a family spokesperson, Bo Oswalt, said after the verdict. “If you know anything about joy, it’s a long-term thing. … We have chosen to choose joy over these last three and a half years.”

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