Willers testifies
Jeffrey Phelps  /  AP
Terry Willers answers a question while holding a rifle during his testimony in Chai Soua Vang’s murder trial Monday in Hayward, Wis. Willers was shot in the neck in the deadly incident.
updated 9/12/2005 7:42:48 PM ET 2005-09-12T23:42:48

A deer hunter testified Monday he never fired at a man accused of going on a rampage and fatally shooting six people in the woods after a confrontation over trespassing.

Terry Willers, one of two hunters wounded in the shootings Nov. 21, testified he was the only one in his group who had a gun when they confronted Chai Soua Vang.

“Who shot first?” Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager asked.

“Mr. Vang,” said Willers, whose 27-year-old daughter was among those killed that day.

Willers testified on the second day of Vang’s trial on six counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. Vang faces mandatory life in prison if convicted in the shootings. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

Vang, 36, of St. Paul, Minn., an ethnic Hmong who came to the United States from a refugee camp in Thailand in 1980, says he acted in self-defense after someone shot at him.

Prosecutors disputed that, saying the other hunter wounded in the shooting, Lauren Hesebeck, fired a shot at Vang with Willers’ gun, but only after Vang fired first.

Confrontation about trespassing
Defense attorney Steve Kohn told the jury in opening statements that Willers was “abrupt and antagonistic” and Vang came under a vicious verbal attack from the other hunters, frightening him and making him feel under siege.

Willers told jurors Monday the confrontation turned violent after Vang apologized for trespassing on their private land and the group threatened to report him to authorities.

Willers testified he found Vang in a tree stand, asked him to leave and then gave him directions to public property. Vang, who was wearing a camouflaged ski mask, started to leave, Willers said.

As Vang walked away, Willers said he used a radio to call one of the property’s owners, Robert Crotteau, at a nearby cabin.

Crotteau drove up with other hunters on two all-terrain vehicles and angrily accused Vang of trespassing, Willers said.

The group unsuccessfully tried to get Vang to show identification, then flipped over the hunting tag on his back to get his deer license number, Willers said.

‘Don’t you shoot at me’
Crotteau hollered to Vang that the hunters would report him to authorities, Willers testified. Vang was walking down a path when he crouched, set down a bag and took the gun off his shoulder, Willers said.

He testified he believed Vang was going to shoot, so he took his gun from his shoulder and held it in front of him. “I said, ‘Don’t you shoot at me, you (expletive)”’ he said. Willers then ran and dove behind a tree.

“A split second I felt a burning and felt a ripple through my body. I next thought about moving and I couldn’t move,” said Willers, who was wounded in the neck. “I was thinking this was it.”

Killed were Robert Crotteau, 42; his son Joey Crotteau, 20; Al Laski, 43; Mark Roidt, 28; Jessica Willers, 27; and Dennis Drew, 55, all of the Rice Lake area.

Sawyer County Circuit Judge Norman Yackel agreed to allow two photographers into the courtroom as long as they made less noise and took fewer photos. He banned still photographers Saturday after Vang’s attorneys complained about the camera noise.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments