PRESTONSBURG — Berry Hall said a misdiagnosis by his family doctor and an incorrect prescription of medicine are to blame for the deaths of Alan and Lisa Tackett.
Berry Hall is on trial for double murder following the 2008 shooting deaths of his neighbors, Alan and Lisa Tackett. On Monday in Floyd County Circuit Court, Hall was called to testify by his defense counsel.
Hall said that before the shootings, he was being treated for depression and stress by his family physician Dr. Charles Hieronymous. Hall said that Dr. Hieronymous prescribed Hall the wrong medication, and that it actually made his symptoms worse. “It was making stress worse and stuff because I was having to fight medication off, you know.”
Hall said after a while, his mediation was switched again. “I went plumb out of my damn mind on that stuff.”
Dr. Charles Jerome Hieronymous Jr., died July 23, 2009.
When questioned by the defense, Hall told the jurors the medications made him paranoid and delusional. He testified that he heard things, and saw things that weren’t really there, including demons. “I’d turn around to answer somebody and there weren’t nobody there.”
Hall told the jurors that three days prior to the shooting, he had similar feelings during an argument with his neighbors and went upstairs with a gun, but he said, that time, he caught himself.
Under cross-examination, Commonwealth’s Attorney Arnold Brent Turner grilled Hall with questions about what he did and did not remember about the shooting.
Turner asked Hall where he was before the shooting.
“I guess I must have been sitting there on the ouch eating and watching TV. They said I was watching TV. I guess I was,” said Hall.
“Well, were you or weren’t you?” asked Turner.
“I guess I was, I must have been. I was sitting right in front of the TV on the couch,” Hall replied.
“What I am asking is do you recall sitting on the couch,” Turner asked again.
“Not really,” Hall said.
Hall said he could only remember bits and pieces of what occurred the day of the shooting. He told jurors that after the fighting started, he got up off the couch and blacked out. “I got up and turned stiff, and that pressure hit my head.”
Hall said that his anger was so bad, “you do something to provoke that stuff, and you was gonna get hurt, buddy.”
Turner asked Hall if that was the point when he went upstairs and shot Lisa and Alan Tackett.
“I don’t know, I just got up, turned stiff and blacked out,” said Hall
“So your testimony is that you don’t know what happened up there?” asked Turner.
“Not really. I know I had a gun out the window. I’m pretty sure about that.”
The cross-examination continued to go back and forth, with Turner asking Hall questions and Hall deferring his answers to the memories of others, and the guilt for his actions to his doctor and the medication he was taking.
“Those two people are dead because he gave me Prozac,” Hall said. “It was Charlie’s fault. He was the one that done negligent. I told him that stuff wasn’t right, told him it was causing anger.”
Hall told the jurors he was uncertain of whether or not he was standing in the bedroom when he shot Lisa and Alan Tackett, or lying on the bed. Hall also said that he was not trying to shoot the couple.
According to Hall, in his blacked-out state, he was actually trying to shoot the ground.
“You aimed that gun through the scope, you’re saying at the ground, but somehow when you pulled the trigger you shot Lisa just about right in the heart, didn’t you?” Turner asked incredulously.
“Yeah, I know that. [That’s] how come I didn’t understand how I hit that girl in the heart right there,” said Hall.
“Well, isn’t the logical explanation because that’s where you were aiming? When you’re trying to kill somebody, that’s where you shoot them, isn’t it?” asked Turner.
“Well, yeah, that’s a good point,” Hall conceded.
As Turner continued to ask Hall questions concerning the shooting, Hall’s answers became more and more confused. At one point, Hall was asked if he shot Alan Tackett, at which point he replied “no.” When Turner asked him again if he shot him, Hall said, “I shot the man, but I didn’t know I shot the man.”
Hall said that, like his previous testimony with regard to shooting Lisa Tackett, he was not aiming at Alan Tackett when he shot him twice; once through the left hand, and then again in the head.
Turner pointed out that for someone who wasn’t aiming at his targets, Hall was a good shot. “You were three for three.”
The defense began Monday morning calling several of Berry Hall’s brothers and sisters to testify about a family history of mental instability, beginning with Berry’s father, who all of Hall’s siblings testified had issues of paranoia and anxiety. Delma Hall, Hillard Hall and Mike Hall were all called and each testified about their own mental health issues.
Another brother, Burly Hall, testified that he once lost a job because he threatened to shoot people at his work with a shotgun. Burly said he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown during that incident and that he could see similarities in Berry’s worsening mental state.
“I knew something bad was going to happen down there,” Burly Hall said. “I told my wife I should’ve gone down there to see him.”
Burly Hall said Lisa and Alan Tackett should have been made aware of Berry’s condition. “They should’ve known, as sick as he was,” said Burly. “They shouldn’t have been fighting out there.”
The trial of Berry Hall will resume today as the defense continues to call witnesses.