KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman testified she hid and tried to comfort her young daughter when a man broke into their home near Kalamazoo and then shot and killed her husband.

William Jones is on trial for the murder of Christopher Neal. On Monday morning, a Kalamazoo County jury heard opening statements, after which testimony began.

Christopher Neal
An undated photo of Christopher Neal courtesy Facebook.

Authorities say Jones broke into a home on Proctor Avenue near King Highway in Comstock Township on the night of Dec. 1, 2019 and held Neal, his wife and their daughter hostage. Neal was shot in the head and killed. Three police officers who moved in on the house when they heard gunfire were also shot and wounded: a Kalamazoo public safety officer was shot in the shoulder, a Michigan State Police trooper in the leg and a Kalamazoo County sheriff’s deputy was grazed on the head.

The prosecutor is arguing Jones had time to think about what he was doing, about 40 minutes, and intended to kill Neal.

The defense says Jones believed someone was following him and thought he needed help. It says he didn’t know it was police outside the home and felt threatened.

Haley Coe, Neal’s wife, took the stand and identified Jones as the man who killed her husband. She recalled Jones bursting in through an unlocked back door, armed with two handguns. She said he wouldn’t let anyone from the family leave.

She said she hid in an upstairs bedroom, cradling her daughter, who was a toddler at the time.

“I just really needed to be quiet and I couldn’t get my daughter to be quiet but I wanted her to be because I was scared,” Coe said.

Coe and her daughter were not injured.

The prosecutor also played the recording of Coe’s 911 call.

Jones has been found competent to stand trial. That means a judge decided he is capable of understanding the charges against him and of assisting in his own defense, as is his right. It does not preclude the defense from seeking to prove he was not sane at the time of the killing.

Jones faces a slew of criminal counts including open murder; felony murder; three counts of assault with intent to commit murder; first-degree home invasion; unlawful imprisonment; being a felon in possession of a firearm; being a felon in possession of ammunition; assaulting, resisting and obstructing an officer; and several counts of felony firearm. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Neal, 22, was a native of Texas. He served in the U.S. Navy, where he met his wife, who is from Southwest Michigan.

“He was very charismatic and very outgoing and loved cars,” Coe said on the stand. “And he was just like a people pleaser, like, he just wanted to make everybody happy.”

—News 8’s Kyle Mitchell and Brittany Flowers contributed to this report.