GLOBE -- Star Valley businessman Roy George Haught, who is on trial for second-degree murder in the 1997 death of local mechanic Jim Cooper, took the stand Friday to testify in his own defense.
Prosecutors set out last week to prove that Haught followed Cooper to his driveway in Strawberry, punched him, knocked him unconscious and kicked him while he was down. Cooper died from a severed carotid artery caused by a hard blow to the head six days after his Dec. 14, 1997 fight with Haught.
Haught's defense attorney, Tracey Westerhausen of Phoenix, contends that Cooper was angry because Haught had been tailgating him, and he pushed Haught twice and punched him in the lip once before Haught admittedly punched Cooper in the head.
She says 36-year-old Haught punched 53-year-old Cooper in self defense.
Haught, the owner of a local earth-moving company, answered questions posed by Westerhausen and Gila County District Attorney Jerry DeRose for nearly two hours.
He told the jury that he followed Cooper off Fossil Creek Road and into the subdivision where Cooper lived because Cooper was driving slowly.
"You said the car was going slow and putting on its brakes?" DeRose asked.
"Yes," Haught said.
"And you wanted to know what's up with this guy, is that right?" DeRose asked.
"That's what I said, yes," Haught said.
The prosecution called its last witness Friday morning and the defense wrapped up its case Friday afternoon, a day earlier than expected.
Both sides are expected to give their closing arguments Tuesday morning before the case is turned over to the jury for a decision.
For full trial coverage, defense and prosecution case strategies and comprehensive excerpts of Haught's testimony, pick up the Feb. 16 issue of the Payson Roundup, which will be available in racks around town Tuesday afternoon.