An Oklahoma City pastor accused of fatally shooting his son-in-law will face trial, a judge ruled Friday after hearing conflicting testimony from the victim's emotional wife and girlfriend.
Michael Scott Elder, 53, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 20 death of Gary Davidson, 27, who was married to Elder's daughter.
Elder is pastor at The Cross Baptist Church, 1615 SW 96. He is being held without bail in Oklahoma County jail.
He is accused of shooting Davidson as the estranged couple struggled for control of a truck being driven by April Davidson.
A tearful April Davidson told Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott she feared for her life the day her husband jumped in the front seat of the couple's moving truck.
She said Gary Davidson was physically abusive and had previously threatened her life, adding that he intended to push her out of the vehicle the day Elder intervened.
“He started pushing on me, pulling on me, trying to get the vehicle,” Davidson testified. “I was scared.”
She testified hearing one shot and seeing her husband crawl from the front seat to the back seat before falling out of the vehicle.
The wife, who told police her father ran alongside the vehicle and shot Davidson, testified Friday that she did not see her father fire the gun.
Gary Davidson was unarmed.
April Davidson told police she drove away from a residence in the 2700 block of NW 12 when Gary Davidson refused to give her their 2-year-old daughter. The couple had been separated for nine months.
Prosecutors contend Gary Davidson was sitting in the backseat of the stopped truck when he was shot multiple times, including twice through the passenger seat headrest.
The victim's girlfriend also testified Friday at Elder's preliminary hearing and contradicted the wife's testimony.
Judith Chism, who lived at the residence with Gary Davidson, said the truck was stopped when Gary Davidson tried to exit the vehicle from the back seat as Elder stood next to the open door.
She testified hearing four to five gunshots.
“He falls out on his forehead, straight down,” Chism testified. ”It was unbelievable to watch.”
Chism also testified that April Davidson sent her two texts after the homicide, which she reported to police.
A crime scene investigator testified that Davidson was shot three times, including twice in the left side while he was in the back passenger seat. Each shot, Oklahoma City police Sgt. Everett Baxter said, was fired from close range through the front passenger side window.
One of the wounds, to Davidson's wrist, appeared to be defensive but the officer could not say for sure if the victim was in the front or back seat when he sustained it.