published Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Jurors doubted changing testimony in Jamaul Herman murder trial

Jurors who found Jamaul Herman not guilty of murder on Wednesday told a prosecutor there was not enough evidence to convince them he pulled the trigger on Jerome Timmons on July 4, 2010.

Juror Evan Bissonette said after the six-day trial that a key to his doubt was the change in eyewitness testimony from the time of the crime to the trial.

"If you don't know then, it's hard to believe that a year and a half later all of the sudden you know exactly who it is," he said.

Bissonette spoke briefly with a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter after he and seven other jurors talked with prosecutor Bret Alexander outside the courtroom late Wednesday afternoon.

A female juror who asked not to be identified said she was uncertain throughout the trial whether Herman was the shooter.

Jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours Tuesday and Wednesday and reached a verdict just before 5 p.m. They found Herman not guilty of first-degree murder and reckless endangerment, but guilty of evading arrest for running from police afterward.

Herman could be sentenced to between one and six years on that charge. He has convictions for aggravated robbery, drug possession, aggravated burglary and theft dating back to 2001.

Prosecutors Alexander and Charlie Minor attempted to prove that Timmons, 31, was running from The Palace nightclub and crossing Glass Street when Herman, 29, shot him once in the back of the head.

Prosecution witnesses Kosha Cosey, Darlene Battle and Eugene Orr testified early in the trial that they saw Herman fire the handgun.

But defense attorneys Mary Sullivan Moore and Luke Neder attacked the police investigation and 911 recordings in which Cosey and Battle said shortly after the shooting that they didn't know who fired the shot.

"There wasn't enough proof to show the identity of the shooter and that the shooter was Mr. Herman," Moore said after the trial.

Minor commended Battle and Cosey, who followed Herman as he drove away and called 911. Police pursued and arrested Herman after a car and foot chase.

Timmons' relatives crowded the courtroom throughout the trial. Waiting Wednesday for the verdict, they remembered his life.

He led the Howard High School band as the drum major for two years before graduating in 1997. His three children, nieces and nephews share his love of music and dance.

"I don't agree with the verdict, but you reap what you sow and what he's sown, he has to live with," said Vanessa Suttles, Timmons' sister. "I still believe he's the one."

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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