published Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Testimony begins today in 2011 Chattanooga slaying

  • photo
    Sheriff's Deputy Jim Pickett, right, escorts Roderick Bates into Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom Wednesday afternoon. His Attorney, Clancy Covert covers his mouth, at left.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

  • photo
    Sheriff's Deputy Tim Higgs, right, escorts Emmett Jones into Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jurors will begin hearing testimony this morning in a murder trial of two Chattanooga men charged in a 2011 slaying.

Attorneys took all Wednesday to select 14 jurors, all white, two of them women, for the trial of Emmett "D-Baby" Jones and Roderick "Poo Poo" Bates, both 27, in the Oct. 7, 2011, shooting death of Reginald Clark, 37.

Both of the defendants and the victim are black.

An additional security checkpoint manned by three officers was put up outside the courtroom of Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman after information of alleged witness threats came to the court's attention, said a source close to the trial.

Prosecutors Lance Pope and Amanda Morrison allege that Jones and Bates entered Clark's Greenwood Drive home at 3 a.m. after the men had gotten into an altercation at the 807 Fire and Ice nightclub on Market Street a short time before.

Marterrius Daniel told police after the shooting that while he and Clark were at the nightclub he complimented a woman on her outfit but she seemed insulted and poured a drink on him. Shortly after that exchange, Daniel said, Bates approached him and said that the woman was his girlfriend.

In a preliminary hearing a month after the shooting, Larinder Lewis testified that she saw Bates and Jones fire at least five rounds at Clark before the victim could retrieve his handgun.

Daniel testified in the same hearing that he was standing a few feet away from Clark when he heard Bates say, "What that (expletive) you talking at the club?" before firing.

He also testified that after the shots ceased he laid on the ground and played dead until the shooters left. He then went to Clark, who was lying face down on the floor with Clark's .40-caliber handgun nearby.

"He had his hand on (the gun), but he wasn't quick enough," Daniel testified in the 2011 hearing.

Both defendants face first-degree murder and especially aggravated burglary charges.

Daniel was recently arrested and is being held in the Hamilton County Jail. Both of the defendants are also in custody at the jail.

Pope requested that the judge order the defendants not to communicate with Daniel while in the jail. Steelman ordered the co-defendants to not talk with Daniel and spoke with a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy to ensure that jail supervisors would keep the men separated.

The trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday but the courthouse was closed Monday due to inclement weather. Steelman told jurors that the trial would likely last into next week, but not be held Monday due to other matters on his docket.

Prosecutors have 18 witnesses scheduled to testify, according to court records.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter@tsouthCTFP.

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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