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"I protected myself": Accused Bradley Co. landfill shooter testifies in his murder trial

Thursday, Mark Treuchet, a man accused of taking justice into his own hands and killing a fugitive in 2016, took the stand in his own defense. (Image: WTVC)

A man on trial for murder in Bradley County says his actions were "purely defensive."

Police say Mark Treuchet set out to shoot and kill a fugitive that lead police on a high speed chase earlier that day in September 2016.

But Thursday, Treuchet took the stand in his own defense.

Treuchet described the moments before the shooting. He said, "I looked him right straight in the eye, and he was gritting his teeth like this and just cussing through his teeth and spitting."

Police say Jeremy Headley was on the run.

Officers searched for him for hours before they lost him around the landfill.

When they couldn't find him, Treuchet says his boss told everyone to go back to work.

"We looked at each other like we were chum, shark bait or something," he said.

So, he says he took his pistol with him and continued to move dirt.

But then, he spotted Headley walking barefoot and approached him.

"Once I got on the ground, I walked towards him and I said, 'Hey how's it going? What's up? You know you can't be down here?'" Treuchet explained.

He says Headley turned and started walking towards him, cursing.

"The one statement that stood out to me above all of them which was repeated was "you'll go before I go," Treuchet said.

Treuchet says then he was scared for his life, and he did what he had to do.

"I protected myself," he said.

Police say he fired the shots that killed Headley.

In cross examination, prosecutors questioned why Treuchet even approached Headley, saying he could have stayed safely in his bulldozer and called for help.

Instead, his coworker ended up taking this picture of him standing over the dead body.

"The first thing I did was snap a picture," Karen Lynch said.

"I had no idea she took a picture," he said.

As far as the statements witnesses testified Treuchet made hours before the shooting, Treuchet says he wasn’t the only one making those kind of threats that day.

Also of note, Treuchet testified that he called his supervisor when he spotted Headley.

He says his supervisor is the one that told him to follow him and keep a visual on him.

Both sides have rested their cases here this afternoon.

Court is expected to pick back up Friday morning at 8:30 with closing statements.

Then the jury will get the case.

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