A jury convicted Billy Norbury of first degree murder in the shooting of his Redwood Valley neighbor, Jamal Andrews, back on January 24, 2012. The jury also found that Norbury used a gun, adding another 25 years to the 25 year sentence for the murder. Under the current verdict, Norbury, who is 33 years old, will be 83 before he is first eligible to apply for parole.
However, a second part of the trial is underway to determine if Norbury was insane at the time of the killing. Should the jury find Norbury not guilty by reason of insanity, there is no telling how long he will be institutionalized and when he may become an outpatient. Once the verdict is in on the insanity plea, Judge John Benke will decide on the sentencing, which could take a month or more.
Leading up to the crime, Norbury rode his ATV to Andrews’ house twice. The first time, it was to call the victim outside – referring to him as “Jamar.” Norbury used the wrong name; he didn’t actually know Jamal Andrews. The second uninvited visit, again on the ATV, was to apologize for the first intrusion. Norbury said he hadn’t meant to scare the family. Andrews accepted the apology.
But on January 24th, 2012, Andrews and his partner Miranda Mills again heard the ATV in their driveway. Andrews left Mills and their baby son Kaiden forever, when he went out the front door to stave off another unwanted encounter. Mills was at the door and heard Andrews yell, “You aren’t serious!” She saw the flash of gunfire as Andrews came running back toward her. Another shot to the back of the head and Andrews was dead before he hit the ground. As Mills hid in terror, Norbury let off one more gun shot for good measure. As she heard the ATV leave, Mills called 911. Neighbors responded to the shots, with one friend holding Andrews to shield Mills from the sight of the life force ebbing away.
WHITE ON BLACK VIOLENCE
Norbury is white and his victim black, adding another dimension to the grief of the community. Members of an anti-racism group, Ukiah Aware, called for a thorough investigation into the motives behind the killing. Indeed Norbury does throw around the N-word. District Attorney David Eyster declined to try it as a hate crime, demonstrating another motive in court. The Norbury family opened their home to a young black friend, Korey Williams, who lived there as a brother to Billy Norbury during their high school days. Defense Attorney Al Kubanis noted that he brought Williams in to testify because he “didn’t know which way the prosecution was going to go.”
Williams has had almost no contact with Norbury since establishing his own home when he turned 21. His testimony proved useful to the prosecution as well, when he testified during the guilty phase, that he and Norbury went hunting together and that Norbury was an excellent shot. During those teenage years, the defendant had problems with alcohol and Williams had to extricate him from various situations – such as wanting to fight someone over a woman.
This was prescient to the gruesome situation at hand. Billy Norbury falsely accused Andrews of having something to do with his wife Brittany Norbury – just one of a mountain of delusions Norbury nurtured. His mother Michelle Norbury testified that he said “the black guy up the road is doing voodoo on me.” But he also accused his estranged wife of seeing Andrews. This slopped over into the courtroom as Defense Attorney Al Kubanis questioned Miranda Mills about her partner. “Isn’t he gone a lot – at concerts?” “When you met him, were there a lot of women hanging around?” Mills was in tears from reliving the murder in the courtoom, but did not buckle under attempts by the defense to discredit the victim. “No, he wasn’t gone a lot.” “No, he did not have women hanging around him.” At the time Andrews was killed, he was at home with Miranda, trying to coax their baby to sleep. Neighbor Steve Brennan described Andrews as a family man and was very upset at attempts to re-cast Andrews’ character. Indeed it seemed to backfire on Kubanis himself. After his cross examination of Mills, he left the courtroom muttering, “I should have been a historian; why did I decide to be a lawyer? I liked history…” In closing statements Kubanis conceded that the possibility of contact between Andrews and Brittany Norbury were slight. “Zero possibility,” corrected Eyster.
The defense presented a whole litany of bizarre behavior. Billy Norbury was suspicious of cell phones – thought they were tracking him. If there was a new mail truck, he was suspicious. He would walk around the house talking to himself and changed his clothes several times a day – he took multiple baths. He spent hours in the basement looking for eavesdropping devices. He would cover his face when an airplane flew over so that they could not read his lips. On occasion Norbury believed there were bugs crawling on him and would try to hose them off or jump into the creek up to his neck – in winter.
Billy Norbury’s estranged wife, Brittany Norbury, gave disturbing testimony. She received a phone call from Billy Norbury, corroborated by a friend who was there when the call came. He accused her of seeing Andrews and threatening to kill him. In this call there was a lot of vile language – as well as “nigger.” On the stand his terrified ex-wife began hyperventilating and fainted. Ironically, Jamal Andrews’ brother Josh is a medic and came forward to make sure she was okay.
Norbury’s sister-in-law, Angela Norbury, took the stand to discredit Brittany Norbury and her friend as ‘untruthful.’ She previously argued that Billy Norbury was a “great parent” and should not have his children taken away from him. Brittany Norbury was prevented from leaving with the children to another state for safety. But two other calls from Billy Norbury to Brittany Norbury were recorded and played for the jury; they were notable for more vile language.
JACK AND COKE
Testimony about alcohol dominated the guilt phase of the trial. Drug tests on Norbury were negative for common drugs such as meth and cocaine. But video cameras at Taylor’s Tavern and the gas station near Vic’s Place show he spent the evening before the killing patronizing the bars – once to Vic’s and twice to Taylor’s. Bartenders testified that he drank Jack Daniels and coca cola all afternoon – but also noted that he was not drunk. D.A. David Eyster pointed out that the video tapes show Norbury walking and parking perfectly.
The defense and prosecution disagreed over the effects alcohol had on Norbury. Kubanis argued that building tolerance to alcohol is a myth, and Norbury was under the influence. But he couldn’t get his own expert on the subject to agree with that. There was little attempt by the defense to show that Norbury didn’t pull the trigger, and they were depending on alcoholic black outs to help explain the murder. Eyster had no trouble winning the tolerance argument – Norbury was drinking but was still, tragically, a perfect shot.
Eyster also pointed to other phone calls where Norbury was cold stone sober while making threats. In particular, Norbury called from jail and told Officer Peter Hoyle “you better be sure I stay here for the rest of my life, or you are one dead mother fucker.” Norbury believed that The Major Crimes Task Force was watching him, and Hoyle is on the Task Force. Hoyle never heard of Norbury before that phone call. Eyster also pointed out that Norbury had been growing marijuana in the past, and could have had reason to worry about being watched.
A CODDLED KILLER?
Throughout this sad tale there is overwhelming evidence of Norbury’s instability and failure to address it. Norburys’ grandfather Billy Joe Norbury described a failed trip to the Ukiah Valley Medical Center. The defendant had asked his grandfather to take him to the hospital; he was hearing voices and was scared. But while checking in to the Emergency Room, a helicopter-ambulance landed outside the ER. Billy Norbury freaked out and ran to their car in the parking lot. Grandfather Billy Joe Norbury gave up and phoned the defendant’s parents to pick him up.
Yet another Billy Norbury, Billy Dean Norbuy – the father – came the closest to bringing his son to the proper attention of authorities. But in the end, he would not press charges. He called the sheriff when the defendant took a gun out of the locked gun safe, and refused to return it. When the father went to call for help, Billy Norbury pulled the phone cord out of the wall and slapped his father. When deputies finally arrived on the scene, they used Section 5150 to remove Norbury from the household, since the father would not press charges.
INSANITY DELIBERATIONS CONTINUE
When the prosecution takes the floor, they will call the county mental health expert who handled the incident with his father to testify. Norbury was later held, tested, and placed in his granparents’ home. Eyster will argue that it was a law enforcement problem. And, somehow Billy Norbury was always protected when he needed to be restrained.
Brittany Norbury’s father, Jim Korver wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal published Sunday, October 21st.
“WHY, Billy?” asks Korver. He writes, “You have poisoned your own family to the point that, out of sheer fear of you, they cater to you and enable you constantly…The whole family is sick from your poison. Why Billy? Not guilty by reason of insanity? No way!…no, you were in your ‘normal’ mind.”
Korver makes reference to an incident when he was also threatened by Billy Norbury.
A verdict on the insanity plea could occur as soon as Monday, October 29th.