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Lilly testifies he acted in self-defense in neighbor’s death

Chester Lilly testified Wednesday in his trial where he is accused of the murder of his neighbor Travis Peters. Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure shows him a picture of what he looked like at the time of his arrest and discussed being hit by Peters in the face. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — Chester Lilly III said he was attacked and had to defend himself which led to the death of Travis Peters.

Lilly, who is on trial for murder in the June 2019 death of his neighbor, took the stand Wednesday in his own defense.

Lilly said he was sitting on his porch on the morning of June 18, 2019, when he heard yelling and came to realize it was being directed at him by Peters and at one point Peters call him a “fat***.”

Lilly said he went down to see what was going on when he said he was chest bumped, punched in the face and had a knife pulled on him. The two struggled for the knife which led to Lilly stabbing Peters.

“I was scared,” Lilly said. “We were all over the place.

“Travis went to kick me and I struck him with the knife.”

Lilly did not know how many times he struck Peters with the knife, but at one point Peters told him he was going to get a gun and shoot him. Lilly went to his house with the knife and its sheath, got his fiancee, got in his truck and left.

“I was scared and in shock,” he said. “I had no intention to kill Travis Peters.

“I was trying to defend myself.”

Lilly said he left immediately because of the threat of being shot and wanting to get himself and his fiancee to safety. Lilly turned himself in to the Parkersburg Police the next day. At the time, he said he did not know Peters had died.

On cross examination by Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure, Lilly said he does not remember where the knife ended up after he left. He also cleaned himself up and changed his clothes before turning himself into police. He doesn’t recall what happened to the clothes he was wearing the day Peters was killed.

Video surveillance at Lilly’s home shows him leaving his porch and returning about 38 seconds later with the knife and blood on his arm. Under questioning by his attorney Joe Munoz, Lilly said if he was intending to commit a crime he would have avoided his own security cameras.

Previous testimony said Lilly had at least two deep stab wounds, one in the back and one in the neck and clavical area in a downward motion and a number of smaller “defensive wounds,” including a gash on his arm.

Lefebure asked why he didn’t call 911 even after he was immediately away from the his house and the perceived danger.

Lilly responded that he was still in shock from what happened. He thought Peters might follow him. He said he tried to call an officer he knew but that person was off work for a couple days.

“I didn’t feel safe,” Lilly said. “My sole purpose was to get out of Dodge.”

He eventually went to his parents’ place and a friend’s place before deciding to go to the police.

Earlier Wednesday expert witnesses testified to tests being run on blood found on the door at Lilly’s home and on his shoes that matched Peters.

Also, Lilly testified he did not ask about the possible penalties for murder until he was informed by police he was being arrested and charged with murder.

Both sides rested their cases and gave closing arguments. The defense argued no one would have an exact memory of everything that happened when attacked. The state argued Lilly intended to kill Peters when he left his porch, saying he could have hidden the knife in the clothes he had on. The fact no one has the knife means investigators can’t show it to people who knew both Lilly and Peters to see if they can connect it to either man.

The jury will begin deliberations today at 9 a.m.

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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