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First witnesses testify in 1993 murder trial

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The first witnesses took the stand Wednesday in the trial for a man charged with murdering a Kalamazoo woman more than two decades ago.

44-year-old Grady Shields Jr. is accused of shooting and killing Lois Cox in October of 1993.

Shields was charged with open murder last year after witnesses came forward saying he told them he did it and got away with it.

Multiple people testified in court Wednesday, from Cox's daughter to the officers called to the scene that day in October 1993.

Much of the day focused on establishing just who Cox was, and laying out the crime scene.

"The alarm wasn't set, the lights were off, so I knew something was going on," said Cox's daughter Christine Durren of the day her mother disappeared.

Durren says her mother was a creature of habit.

For 10 years, she followed the same routine when she showed up to the business she owned and operated on Kalamazoo's north side.

But on October 20th, 1993, Durren says something wasn't right.

"The car was missing, it was not in the driveway," she said.

The coffee pot was on, and a cigarette was in the ashtray, but Cox was gone. So, too, were her keys and her purse.

"Usually, I would stop and have coffee with her," said witness Vincent Taylor. "That particular morning, I was going to work early; I could not stop."
 
A man who worked at the business just across the street says he did see Cox that morning, but like Durren, he too, said something was odd.

"Normally, her car is pulled forward up to the building, to her place of employment," he said. "This particular morning the car was on the street, facing away from the business."

Her body was found 6 days later in her car in Three Rivers.

Cox had been shot multiple times.

"What I saw was a body, crumbled on the floor of the front seat, passenger's side," said former Three Rivers Officer Paul Deuel, the first officer on the scene.

A short time later, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety's crime lab also showed up.

"I was told who the vehicle belonged to, which was somebody that we had been looking for," said former KDPS Crime Lab Tech Gerald Luedecking. "So it was different."

A total of five shell casings were found in the car, along with one cigarette butt. But whether or not that cigarette butt was significant is still unknown.

All through Wednesday's testimony, Shields sat quietly, never saying a word.

We are still waiting to see a letter, which the prosecutor says Shields wrote back in 2002, admitting to having key information in the case.

In the meantime, Shields is currently behind bars for a robbery.