published Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Video takes spotlight in Jamaal Byrd murder trial

Jamaal Byrd talks with one of his lawyers, Ryan Hanzelik, during the opening of his trial Tuesday. Byrd is accused of shooting and killing Terrance Etchison at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's in 2012.
Jamaal Byrd talks with one of his lawyers, Ryan Hanzelik, during the opening of his trial Tuesday. Byrd is accused of shooting and killing Terrance Etchison at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's in 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

Attorneys pored over gas station video showing the 2010 shooting death of a Chattanooga man during the first day of a murder trial Tuesday.

Jamaal Byrd, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 27, 2010, shooting death of Terrance Etchison at the Kanku's gas station on Wilcox Boulevard.

Byrd's attorneys, father-and-son duo Fred and Ryan Hanzelik, said their client acted in self-defense.

Prosecutors Matthew Rogers and Brian Finlay said that, after Byrd and Etchison, 27, talked briefly inside the store, Byrd got a gun from the trunk of his car, loaded it and waited before walking up to Etchison in the parking lot and shooting him in the chest.

The video shows Etchison talking with passers-by and digging in his pockets before walking from one gas pump to the next, where Byrd was parked. Byrd raises his right arm straight in front of him, pointing the revolver at the middle of Etchison's chest, fires and Etchison falls to his back, hands flung above his head on the concrete.

Kanku's Manager Carmen Fazio testified Monday afternoon that, while he was working the register that night, he heard a gunshot and saw people in the parking lot scatter. He then saw Etchison die.

"He kept trying to get up. It was weird. He kept trying to stand up, but he couldn't, you know. Then he just stopped," Fazio said. "He didn't last long after the shot."

During opening statements, Fred Hanzelik told the jury that Etchison threatened to kill Byrd, calling him "Frankenstein," a street shorthand for a "dead man walking," because Etchison believed Byrd had slept with his girlfriend.

Eric Evans, who was parked at the Kanku's between Byrd's and Etchison's cars the night of the shooting, testified Tuesday that he saw Byrd retrieve a gun from his trunk before the shooting, but Hanzelik showed video of Evans still inside the store when Byrd got the gun.

Evans testified he did not see a weapon in Etchison's hand before he was shot.

The trial resumes today in Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom.

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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