Jurors today will continue to deliberate the fate of two Chattanooga men charged in a 2011 home invasion slaying.
Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman sent the jury home at 6:30 p.m. Thursday after they'd deliberated nearly four hours following closing arguments that morning.
The first-degree murder and especially aggravated burglary trial of Roderick "Poo Poo" Bates and Emmett "D Baby" Jones, both 27, began Jan. 8, and lawyers for both sides concluded their arguments Thursday.
Jones' attorney, Lee Ortwein, challenged jurors to find physical evidence linking his client to the Oct. 7, 2011, slaying at the 1644 Greenwood Drive home of victim Reginald Clark, 37.
He reminded jurors that multiple witnesses testified that they "couldn't remember" or didn't know details about what happened.
But prosecutor Lance Pope countered Ortwein's statements by revisiting shell casings found on the scene, Clark's wallet found outside his home and matching the physical evidence to witness statements.
He also reminded jurors that statements witnesses made to police just hours after the shooting identified both Bates and Jones through mugshots and by name.
Pope explained that the witnesses were scared to testify, knowing that they might face repercussions in their neighborhoods.
Earlier in the trial Chattanooga Police Department investigator Adam Emery testified that he had to fake arrest two witnesses at the scene to avoid stirring up a crowd of 20 to 30 onlookers.
Ortwein introduced a mugshot of a man named Michael McCullough who also went by the street name "Poo," and was included in a photo lineup shown to witnesses by investigators.
He admitted he had a hard time telling some of the black men apart in video shown by prosecutors.
"Maybe it's because I'm white and there's a cross-race identification issue," Ortwein said, referencing studies showing that it is more difficult for someone to distinguish people from another race.
The defendants and victim are black. The jury is white.
But Pope met Ortwein's mugshot challenge, as well.
"You see when you've got a client that's guilty, you resort to stuff like this," Pope said. "Mr. Ortwein's a clever lawyer."
Bates' attorney, Clancy Covert, made no closing statement.
Contact staff writer Todd South at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP
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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