Champion found guilty of murder

By ALEXA DUKE
Henderson Daily News

A Rusk County jury
almost didn't reach a verdict in the murder trial of Arthur Ural
Champion but, once they did, it took only two hours of deliberating to
sentence the Mount Enterprise man to six years in prison for the
December 2006 shooting death of Lorenzo Calhoun, 52.

Champion was
represented by Joshua Wintters of Tyler, who argued Champion shot
Calhoun in self-defense. Champion, whose common-law wife Lula Mae was
Calhoun's sister, said the victim had been beating Lula Mae, had
threatened the accused, and had some sort of weapon in his hand.

The
two men had a history of antipathy, said Rusk County District Attorney
Micheal Jimerson, who prosecuted the case along with assistant district
attorney Allison Biggs.

No weapon other than the shotgun used in
the shooting was recovered, however, and Lula Mae testified the only
person who hit her that day was Champion.

“The defense made Calhoun out to be a terrible person and he did have an extensive criminal record,” Jimerson said this morning. “He
had been in and out of the penitentiary and, in fact, had not been home
long. The defense pretty much argued Champion was just saving the
taxpayers money; that he had done the public a service, in effect, by
killing this terrible person.”

Testimony in the trial revealed
Calhoun and his girlfriend, Carolyn Cartwright, had been at the
Champion home throughout the afternoon and the two men had been
bickering much of that time.

Jimerson said Cartwright testified
she had been trying to get Calhoun to leave all afternoon. At one
point, she got in her car to leave but Calhoun said he was going to the
restroom and would shortly follow. The defense argued that Calhoun had
threatened Champion during the time Cartwright was waiting in the car.

“Calhoun
came out and got in the car with her, handed her the keys and she put
them in the ignition,” Jimerson said. “Champion comes out with a
single-shot shotgun loaded with birdshot. Cartwright gets out of the
car and Calhoun gets out on his side, and Champion shot him from close
range. The autopsy showed it was no more than five feet away and no
less than one foot.”

The jury deliberated most of the day
Thursday and sent out a note around 4 p.m. that they were deadlocked.
But while Fourth District Court Judge J. Clay Gossett was preparing his
response asking jurors to continue deliberations, the 12 sent out a
second note to say they had reached a verdict.

After agreeing
that Champion was guilty, the jury returned to the courtroom Friday for
the sentencing, assessing his sentence at six years in the penitentiary.

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