State rests case in Jacksonville Beach killing

Defense calls witnesses to try to prove insanity in 2011 shooting death

Charles Pearce appears in court.
Charles Pearce appears in court.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state rested its case after calling six more witnesses Wednesday in the trial of a Jacksonville Beach man accused of shooting and killing another man in February 2011.

Meanwhile, the defense brought in a series of witnesses, trying to drive home the argument that Charles Pearce was insane at the time of the shooting.

Pearce, 33, is charged with murder in the shooting death of 42-year-old Mike McCue (pictured below) and attempted murder of his stepfather, Michael Otis, in Jacksonville Beach.

Prosecutors said Pearce shot McCue -- a Jacksonville firefighter -- then fired at his stepfather but missed.

Defense attorneys say Pearce was a man convinced that his family and neighbors had stolen $30 million in inheritance money that did not exist. They called witnesses to speak to Pearce's long history of mental health issues and contend his delusions became his obsession.

Michael McCue
Michael McCue

"Did Mr. Pearce ever spit on you or anything of that nature?" a defense attorney asked.

"Yes," one of Pearce's neighbors responded. "About -- I'm not sure what exact date. It was around November, December since he wasn't cutting my grass anymore. I had another lawn man. He was down at the end of the street cutting another customer. I went down the street in my power chair to pay him, and on the way down there he was cutting -- Mr. Pearce was cutting. Another one of his customers came out in the street, threatened me and spit on me."

Earlier in the day, prosecutors called a variety of witnesses to testify on topics including cellphone tracking that helped investigators capture Pearce in Arizona, as well as evidence at the crime scene and the injuries to McCue.

It was all testimony that reinforced the state's case that Pearce understood right from wrong at the time of the crime and not only left the scene but the state of Florida to get away with it.

"I observed at the crime scene the body of Michael McCue," said Detective Cpl. Paul Watkins, of the Jacksonville Beach Police Department. "His shirt was opened and they tried to perform CPR."

"We put out a BOLO to be on the look out for this subject and his vehicle," Watkins added.

Testimony will continue Thursday. The trial is expected to wrap up by the end of the week.