Witnesses: Fight over cigarettes before deadly shooting

LaDale Williams-Nelson appears in court on Feb. 14, 2018 in connection to the shooting death of his girlfriend, Leticia Vela.

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who allegedly shot and killed a mother of five children during a New Year’s party in Wyoming is heading to trial.

LaDale Williams-Nelson is charged with open murder and domestic violence and felony use of a firearm in connection to the death of his girlfriend, 25-year-old Leticia Vela.

Witnesses testified Wednesday the couple was arguing when Williams-Nelson began hitting and choking Vela. They said Williams-Nelson grabbed his guns and then Vela pulled on his hooded sweatshirt, demanding he give her his cigarettes.

Kent County Medical Examiner Stephen Cohle testified Vela had bruises and cuts all over her body and was shot once in the left eye at extremely close range.

Leticia Vela
Photo: An undated courtesy image of Leticia Vela.

“If all we have is just a thin rim of soot, that means the weapon is nearly touching the body when it’s fired,” Cohle explained.

Police K-9s tracked Williams-Nelson a mile away from the Wyoming Park neighborhood home after the 4 a.m. crime.

Williams-Nelson has been in prison before for domestic violence. This is his third such offense.

Williams-Nelson’s attorney asked the judge for bond, but it was denied.