A Floyd County grand jury deliberated for about an hour before finding Berry Hall guilty of two counts of intentional murder and four counts of first-degree wanton endangerment on Thursday.
The sentencing phase of the trial was still underway at print deadline.
Hall admitted on the stand this week that he shot and killed his niece, Lisa Tackett, 30, and her husband Alan Tackett, 46, at their home in Abbott in March 2008. He also told the jury that the couple did not deserve to die.
He was found guilty, but mentally ill, on the charges Floyd Circuit Court in 2012, but on appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the case back to the county for another trial, citing issues with photos used during the first trial.
The jury was charged with determining whether there was enough evidence to find Hall guilty of intentional murder, wanton murder, first-degree manslaughter, or whether he was insane, and therefore, not guilty, or guilty, but with a mental illness, as was the verdict in 2012.
Hall testified on his own behalf on Wednesday, admitting that he shot Lisa and Alan Tackett and claiming that he “blacked out” and could not remember details about the shooting until years later.
“It took me 12 years to remember... just to piece together what did happen,” he said.
He also testified to having being treated for anxiety and depression. He said his symptoms started as dizzy spells, and claimed that a depression medications caused him to have problems with anger. He started taking Prozac about three months prior to the shooting, according to testimony, and he told the jury that the drug took him “plumb out of my daggum mind.”
He talked about cussing at family members and cussing out a boss and quitting a job because of his anger issues.
Hall described the day of the shooting for his attorney Emma Jones, claiming that he felt pressure in his head before walking upstairs to shoot the couple from a second-story window, and that he “blacked out” and didn’t know what he was doing.
He also mentioned that a nephew was stealing from him at the time and he put the gun in the room and took the shells out for that reason, but explained that he was able to stop himself from shooting his nephew.
“I was actually sitting on my hands, holding myself down because I was so angry,” Hall said. “I wanted to get up and shoot that boy. I got up and took the gun upstairs, and when I got up there I caught myself, what I was doing, and put the gun down.”
When questioned by Jones, Hall explained that he went to church when he was a child and knew that murder was wrong.
When Jones asked him why he couldn’t stop from shooting Lisa and Alan Tackett, Hall said he “blacked out in anger” and “couldn’t stop it.”
He explained that he attempted to shoot Lisa Tackett twice, but jerked his head away before pulling the trigger. He claimed he was going to “shoot the ground in front of Lisa,” and hit her in the chest instead.
Hall burst out in tears when he talked about going over to the Tackett property and getting the four young children away from the scene. After composing himself, he said he told one of the children that an ambulance was on the way.
“I got them out of the house and took them to my house ... That really happened right there,” he said.
He said it took him 10 years in jail to realize it was murder and “it took from then on to remember other little things” about the shooting.
“Every time I think about them kids I get tore down,” Hall said, crying. “That shouldn’t happened right there.”
In questioning, Jones suggested that Hall’s anger problems started with the first depression medication he was on, and that Hall “lost control” when he was prescribed Prozac. But Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner refuted those assertions in his cross examination of Hall and questioning of one of the defense’s expert witness, psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Allen, who testified that he found no evidence to show Hall was experiencing mental illness when the shooting occurred, that Hall tested at normal ranges for IQ and other psychological indicators under his care in recent years and that there is no evidence to prove that Prozac caused his homicidal behavior. In rebuttal questioning, Jones asked him to confirm that it could take decades to link Prozac with homicidal or suicidal behavior in adults like Hall. Allen confirmed that statement was true, but he also emphasized that current warnings on the drug are suggested for adolescents, not adults, and that it’s one of the drugs he prescribes most often for patients.
Suggesting that pills didn’t cause Hall to shoot the couple, Turner asked him whether it’s possible that “maybe you’re just a hot head or a jerk.”
Hall told him, “They was something going on.”
Under questioning by Turner, Hall said he was not taking Prozac when he cussed out his family or his boss and Hall responded by telling him, “It ain’t against the law to get angry.”
Turner suggested in questioning that Hall could not remember details about how the murders occurred if he had truly blacked out.
He asked Hall whether his niece deserved “a cussing that day,” referencing comments Hall made earlier in his testimony.
Turner asked about the nephew that was stealing, asking whether it’d be a “good reason to be angry” at someone for doing that.
“I could have went out there and beat his ass, but I didn’t,” Hall said.
Turner asked other questions that appeared difficult for Hall to answer, such as why, if he was blacked out, he chose to shoot from the upstairs bedroom window instead of going outside and confronting the couple.
“I should have went outside and told Lisa to go home, but I didn’t,” Hall said.
He told Tuner that before collapsing, Lisa Tackett took a step toward her house and screamed for her dad.
Turner asked him how he remembered that if he was blacked out.
“I wasn’t blacked out when I heard that,” he said.
He also said, “That’s right” when Turner told him that, after shooting Lisa Tackett, he could have thrown the gun down and run away.
In his questioning, Turner suggested that if he was blacked out, Hall could not have shot a “three for three,” using three bullets to shoot two people three times, killing both of them. He emphasized the difficult angle that was required for Hall to shoot Alan Tackett, who was inside a storm door that day.
Turner wanted to know how Hall could be an “expert shot” if he could not control himself, as he testified, during the shooting.
“They wasn’t doing nothing to die for, I’ll tell you that,” Hall told him.