In a Mendocino County courtroom overflowing Tuesday with supporters of his family as well as those of the man he is accused of killing, Billy Norbury opted to skip a preliminary hearing, an acknowledgment that there is sufficient evidence against him to proceed to trial.
Norbury is charged with murder in the shooting death of Jamal Andrews, a Redwood Valley reggae musician who lived with his girlfriend and child on a rural road about a quarter of a mile from Norbury's residence.
The shooting has raised concerns that it could have been racially motivated. Norbury is white and Andrews was biracial. But District Attorney David Eyster has said there's no evidence the shooting was a hate crime and allegations of racism were largely absent following the hearing.
"My friend is dead. Beyond that, we don't know," said Marilyn Miller.
Andrews' girlfriend, Miranda Mills, said previously she had no idea why Norbury would want to harm Andrews.
Rumors that Norbury is racist are absurd, his grandmother, Shirley Valentini said following the court hearing. "He has a (foster) brother who is black," she said.
According to court records in his divorce case, Norbury had substance abuse problems and was mentally unstable.
His estranged wife claimed he was irrational and suffered from paranoia. He thought people were following him and listening to his conversations through the television set and cell phone, according to court documents.
Norbury faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office. He's scheduled for arraignment May 4.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or Glenda.firstname.lastname@example.org.