Man accused of killing Starrville pastor pleads ‘not guilty’

Crime & Public Safety

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The man accused of murdering an East Texas pastor while running from police pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance Monday morning.

21-year-old Mytrez Woolen, an Arlington resident, is charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Pastor Mark McWilliams back in January.

Woolen had broken into the church and was hiding in the building. Shortly before services began, McWilliams came across Woolen who was trying to hide in the back area of the church.

Sheriff Larry Smith said at the time that McWilliams drew a pistol on Woolen, but Woolen was allegedly able to get his pistol and shoot the pastor.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman and defense attorney Jeff Haas also spoke about coming up with a list of evidence that a DPS lab in Dallas would need to test for DNA.

The hearing was held in front of 7th District Court Judge Kerry Russell.

Woolen was arrested later the same day after stealing a car from the church. His arrest was not his first run-in with law enforcement– Woolen has been in and out of the court system since he was a teenager.

Court records show Woolen was arrested in Tarrant County in 2016. Since he was a juvenile at the time, no further information is available on the arrest.

In 2019, Woolen was arrested in Marshall for burglary and was later sentenced to six years probation along with 300 hours of community service.

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