Jamal Woods is accused of shooting four people inside TGI Fridays Restaurant in Huntsville in December of 2006. Tank Beavers and Thurston Turner died from their injuries.
WAFF-48 News Reporter Elizabeth Gentle will be keeping up with the proceedings live from the courtroom. Check back for updates.
May 14, 2009
The sentencing phase in Jamal Woods capital murder case was about to start. Family members of the victims were seated to the right of Judge Laura Jo Hamilton. The wife, two small sons, and mother of Woods were seated to the left. The courtroom was quiet as we wait for the judge to begin.
There was added security in the courtroom with deputies posted at the front and both entrance doors.
Odell Turner, father of Thurston Turner who was shot and killed inside TGI Friday's Restaurant, addressed the court.
"Thurston was a loving father, working man. He was someone who did not deserve to die. You woud never understand our loss. I urge you to take into consideration if it were your own child's life. Do you see how our hearts are broken? We will never understand how you did a nonsense situation over my son speaking to a relative. You will have a miserable life in prison. The flashbacks will appear. Thou shall not kill. December 17, 2006 I got my last hug from Thurston in my kitchen. He was our youngest son. I told him with a smile I won't ever forget it. He said momma you and dad taught us well. He didn't believe in violence. Gave his life to God at a early age. He loved life. His death put an impact on his families. He cannot attend basketball, football, birthday parties, family reunions, children's baptism. They can't be with him Father's Day. They can go to Limestone Memorial Garden to put flowers on his grave."
Tank Beavers cousin made this statement:
"In life we must deal with death. We dealt with murder. Tank was a loving kid. He had his life snatched away. I have to look at his famiy with the pain in their eyes and their hearts. He won't be back. All we have is memories and pictures. Your mom has your children. My grandmother has grieved herself into bad health, as the whole family. Our family is close knit. There is a piece of the puzzle that is missing. Your momma will have phone calls, pictures. We have a grave site of Tank. Think about it whle you are in prison. Think abut the lif that would have been had it not been snatched away."
Prosecutor Don Rizzardi addresses the court.
"On his good days, Jamal did nothing to contribute to the community. His adulterous self peddling drugs on the streets, paid no taxes. He stole, shot up a restaurant in a busy holiday season. Ninety-eight folks witnessed his murderous acts. He took peace from something as simple as a holiday dinner. That business had no fault that day. They lost 100,000 over a 3-month period because of Jamal's actions. Employees lost their jobs because they didn't feel safe."
"The coward hid afterwards. You should never forget their faces. They left friends and family to grieve. Tank Beavers, he stole that man's hopes and dreams. He took away from his parents and grandparents the chance to see him graduate college. They will never see that. The only sentence is death. We still believe that. We can't possibly fathom how Jamal Woods deserves any sentence other than death. We feel disgusted, frustrated, mad and cheated. We ask the maximum sentence. Twenty years for Tim Reliford, 99 years for Tory Rogers. We accept life without parole for Tank and Tory. We ask they run consecutive. plus 119 years based on the evidence."
"Woods' life is not worth the lives he took or damaged. We are stuck supporting him the rest of his life. There is no justice here. It cannot be. We take solace and comfort in knowing he will go to prison and run his mouth. We hope prison justice will be put on him regularaly. You are a nobody. Good riddance."
Jamal Woods then took the stand.
"Uh, first of all I want to offer my apology, whether you take it or not. I understand I have the privilege to call and write, but that's not a life. I hope time heals your wounds. I ask God to help you. You look at me like a bad person. You want me dead because I took life. I offer my condolences. I am sorry. I don't want anybody here to suffer. THe situation came out the wrong way. I wish you could have the joy again. I don't want you to be scared. Chose it or not."
After that, Judge Hamilton sentenced Woods to life in prison without the possibility of parole for capital murder. For the attempted murder of Tory Rogers, he was sentenced to 99 years in prison. For the assault of Tim Reliford, he was sentenced to 20 years. The sentences are consecutive. He was also fined $1,000 to give to a crime victims fund and to pay court appointed fees. Restitution to the victims' families will be an amount determined within 30 days. Woods now has 42 days to appeal his sentence.
May 13, 2009
Due to the death of a juror, the original jury has been dismissed and Jamal Woods will be sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday. Stay tuned throughout the day for Elizabeth's updates from the courtroom, as families of the victims make their statements during the (short) sentencing phase.
February 17, 2009
New developments: It looks like this portion of the trial has been postponed. One of the jurors can't make it to court this week. The judge said she should know more about a new date later in this week. So with that, there will be no court until the judge sets a new date.
Welcome back! We are preparing for the start of the second phase of the Jamal Woods capital murder trial. The court just came to order. Defense and prosecutors are taking up business with the judge out of earshot of the jury.
Jamal Woods is seated at the defense table. Today he's dressed in a red jail issued jumpsuit.
February 16, 2009
The second phase in the Jamal Woods capital murder trial begins Monday morning at 9. The same jury of 12 that found Woods guilty of capital murder, attempted murder and assault will decide if Woods will spend the rest of his life in prison or die by lethal injection.
I will be blogging the proceedings from start to end. Check back for updates!
February 13, 2009
Hello everyone! Sorry for not updating but not much going on right now. The jury began deliberations around 1:45 this afternoon. We are not sure at this point what will happen if they don't render a verdict by this evening. The judge is leaving it up to the jury whether they want to come back on Saturday or wait until Tuesday. Monday is Presidents Day so the courthouse is closed.
Stay tuned for more updates. We've got crews standing by and we'll bring you the very latest if anything breaks. Of course be sure to watch WAFF-48 News tonight at 5 and 6.
Happy Friday! Court is an hour late starting. Judge Hamilton is charging the jury.
'12 of you have been selected by the state and the defense to make a factual verdict. You must accept what I tell you to be the law, not what you think the law is. For a fair trial the system can only work on that way. I have no opinion in the facts of this case. The determination of the facts are yours and yours alone. You are authorizted to take into consideration of the testimony of all the witnesses. The defendant is presumed innocent until the 12 of you collectively that he is guilty beyond a resonable doubt. He has pled not guilty. The State of Alabama is bringing the charges, the defendant is denying the charges. So the state has the burden of proof."
The indictment charges Jamal Woods with capital murder, did intentionally cause the death of Tank Beavers by shooting him with a firearm and did cause the death of Thurston Turner by shooting him with a firearm. Intent is a state of mind and not always easy to prove. The state must prove the intential murder of Tank Beavers. He's dead, Jamal Woods caused his death and third by committing the act that caused his death. He intended to cause the death. It is that a person acts intentionally or to conduct (lesser included charges include intentional murder, wreckless murder.)
February 12, 2009
You read it correctly. Its after 10 pm and I'm just now finding time to update the blog. After closing statements, court took a short break. The judge allowed the jury to decide what they wanted to do about staying or going home for the evening. The jury decided to come back fresh in the morning. The judge will charge them, 12 jurors will be selected from the pool of 15 (one was dismissed this week due to illness), then they will deliberate.
In case you missed it, one of the charges against Jamal Woods was amended this afternoon. It was a mutual agreement by both parties. Woods remains charged with capital murder for the deaths of Tank Beavers and Thurston Turner, one count of attempted murder for Tory Rogers and first degree assault of Tim Reliford.
Capital murder trials have 2 stages. If the jury hands down a guilty verdict, a sentencing phase will be scheduled. Much like the Albarran trial, the sentencing phase takes about a week and it consists of testimony, evidence and witnesses. The same jury will decide if Jamal spends the rest of his life in prison without parole or dies by lethal injection.
Please check back tomorrow for updates.
Thanks to everyone who has taken time out to keep up with the proceedings on our website!
Don Rizzardi, closing statement.
'I agree with one thing. He's right I do get the last word. I don't understand when they say we don't make excuses and don't excuse his actions, what does that show? Jamal Woods is charged with assault first degree of Tim Reliford, attempted murder of Tory Rogers, capital murder of Thurston Turner and Tank Beavers (shows photos). In that Woods intentionally killed 2 or more people with a deadly weapon and the attempted murder of Tory Rogers in that the intent of causing the death of Mr. Rogers. The only difference in attempted murder of Tory Rogers and the murder of Tory Rogers, he didn't die."
"Mr. Mann told you this is not a 'who done it.' I say the same thing. We have to prove who did it. Not one of you has any doubt who did the shooting. Witness after witness told you. Jamal told you. I've never seen anything like it, going in a restaurant shooting it up, hitting 4 people, 2 in the head 1 in the back. He just backs it up. He tells you that. You heard from Jamal Woods, that he told the truth. I say he did tell the truth. Then he turned to these people (victims and the families of those killed) on the wall and apologized. He utters the word I aint a killer. How many people you got to kill before you are a killer? I guess its more than 2. When he tells you that its an untruth. We can take some of the things he said and believe it."
"We have to prove intent to Tim Reliford. We have to prove that Woods intended to cause serious physcial injury to Mr. Reliford. In his act, he did so. What did he do? He walked up to the bar, with a gun, the hammer pulled back, shoots him in the back of the head. Remember when Chauncey Davis testified? He saw them having a discussion at the bar he said I guess they were blowing it off. After the conversation with Tank Beaves and Jamal Woods, he took 2 steps back, pulled the gun out of his pants, takes a shot hitting Tank in the eye. The bullet goes out the back of his head, across the bar enters Tim Reliford's face, exits by his ear and goes across the restaurant. This is the bullet that killed Tank Beavers and injured Tim Reliford. Here it is, in my hand. You got to decided what Woods intended."
"He caused serious injury to Tim Reliford. He has scars that will never go away. He sees them every morning when he wakes up. He has his memory of that night and the scars to prove what happened. Tim testified he has constant ringing in his ears that will never go away. He has trouble seeing out of his left eye. That's not enough, as Tank turns around a shot is fired. Thurston Turner looks and takes it in the face. He's a foot or 2 away from Tank Beavers, then shoots. You tell me what is Jamal's intent? Already shot one in the head, another one hit right here. That wasn't enough. Bam! He turns to Tory Rogers and shoots, hit him in the back, near the heart. What was the man's intent as he shot him? It aint a far leap. Why bring all this up? If what Jamal tells, the men were surrounding him, if so how did Tory get shot in the back?"
"This is what Tank Beavers looked like (senior picture) This is what Tank Beaves looked like after he was shot (autopsy photo). Laying in the floor of the restaurant bleeding to death. This is what he looked like in the morgue, cleaned up. You shoot a man with a gun from 2 feet away, what's your intent? Consider the rest of his life story, fights in daycare, to the time he was thrown out of summer school, when his father tried to whip him and he said his dad couldn't touch him. What else did we hear? School fights, A&M incident, he's the aggressor. It shows you it wasn't impulse, it shows you this is his business."
(Rizzardi continues by discussing testimony that was delivered from the stand. Most of it you can find in this blog).
Closing arguments by defense attorney Alan Mann.
"The stakes are high in this case. Emotions run a little higher, nerves are a little shorter. I think we can all understand why that is so. The state brings their case before you, lay out there version of the evidence, which is there job. Your job is to look at all the evidence. I said when I did my opening statement that we offer our condolences. These are some good people here. They have suffered like no other. I said you won't hear us make excuses for Jamal Woods actions. One thing you have not heard, now or ever, that we ask you to excuse Jamal Woods and send him on his way. Its unreasonable, it would fly in the face of everything we are here for."
"The judge will instruct you in this case. She will talk to you about 'beyond a resonable doubt status.' It is YOUR job to prove what is beyond a resonable doubt. The judge will tell you, you have to be convinced of every single element in this case. That's the law. If we have any respect for the law, we have to stay by that."
'The state brings these charges to you and these counts. They tell you each one of the charges there are no questions about intent. I submit, you are the one who makes that decision. The state would like you to dismiss everything the defense has presented to you. Things are what they are. I've heard that old saying, it is what it is. Somethings are. To the element of intent, the state would like you to consider some evidence, but not other evidence. They want you to dismiss his childhood problems. That's just fluff. I tell you its important. We didn't know him then but you heard from people who did. They shared things they didn't make him look very good. Talked about his temper. They testified about the life of a young man, one the state is asking you to end. As you look to the element of intent, as the judge instructs you, consider all the evidence and circumstances. The fact Jamal didn't go into the restaurant with a gun looks like he wasn't looking for trouble. However, he walks you through the steps of that night when 4 people were shot. You can also take into account what Dr. Akerson testified, his reaction, tendency to over react, impulsive nature. The state can't just throw it out there in your lap. You have to make the decision. You got to consider it all before you reach your conclusion. As to Mr. Reliford you have to determine if Mr. Woods intended to shoot him, same with Mr. Rogers. Mr. Beavers it has to be proved as well and with Mr. Turner."
"Not sure I've been troubled in 15 years as much as I have in Mr. Turners case. As much intent or element in this case, the state has to prove Mr. Woods caused the death of the 2 individuals that died. When you get to Mr. Turners case you heard compelling evidence about what caused his death. You want to believe Dr. Shaker's testimony, medical records, testimony of Mr. Morgan, all 3 of those point to another cause for Mr. Turner's demise. There's been testimony before you that Mr. Turner may have walked out alive. That troubles me greatly on the issue of causeation. If you have a resonable doubt that Jamal Woods caused the death of Mr. Turner you cannot convict him of capital murder. The judge is going to give you a charge on what you consider. The judge will instruct you on the crime of murder, not capital murder, sometimes called wreckless murder. It states under circumstances Mr. Woods wrecklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person. That falls short of the intent. He wasn't thinking about consequences, he reacted. Consider all the evidence, listen to what the judge instructs you on."
'You heard from Jamal Woods in a long day of testimony. Its not a 'who done it' case. I think we all know. Why did he take the stand? Make himself look good? He admitted he went into the restaurant, sold drugs, did things in his life that hurt others. Its not my job to make you like Jamal Woods. If we tried to paint him as a choir boy, we didn't. He's not. The state has to prove beyond a resonable doubt that they are going to execute a man. He is a witness like anyother witness. You can consider the credibility of a witness, whether Jamal Woods was truthful on the stand. I submit to you he was painfully honest about his life, the position he sits in now."
"I must apologize to you now, I'm not a doctor. We didn't understand all the ramifications on what was done to Mr. Turner and what Dr. Shaker was trying to say in his report. We never even heard of that procedure, the coil that caused a stroke. It troubles me. I will tell you this, its true that we all have strategy. We choose to do certain things. All that's part of what we are supposed to do. I submit to you facts are facts. We didn't place that coil inside Mr. Turners head to confuse you. We didn't somehow get into our time machine and go back to LA 20 years ago. We didn't make the facts up. They are what they are. None of that is strategy. It is what it is."
"You will hear instruction from the judge, intervening cause to intent, causation element that must be proven. The law is if you have a reasonable doubt you cannot find him guilty of that offense. Its the law, if that fails, we all fail. I ask you to also consider because the state has the burdern of proof, they have the last say, I ask you to think what would we have said in response. I think you can figure that out. Thank you.'
Closing arguments by Assistant DA Shauna Barnett.
'We have the burden of proof. We accept that and we are proud to do it. You've heard a lot of information, a lot of people. My job is to narrow it back down. Why are we here? The defendant is charged with capital murder and 2 counts of attempted murder. The attempted murder charge may not be appropriate so we agreed to amend that charge. So now Jamal's charged with assault first degree for Tim Reliford. As to capital murder, Jamal Woods intentionally caused the death of 2 people in one act of conduct. As the attempted murder charge, Woods did so with intent to commit murder. The amended charge of assault first, did with the intent of causing serious physical injury of Tim Reliford. Did we prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt? The fact that Jamal Woods was the actor in this case is undisputed. You've heard from witnesses, eye witnesses, investigators, even the victims, the defendants wife, friends or former friends of Woods, you even heard from the defendant that he walked up and shot those people. The element of intent is exteremely fair in this case."
"He was with his wife and friends, got mad, decided to leave, went out side to his car, decided to go get his car, leaves the scene for 13 minues, gets the gun, comes back inside, gets mad again, shoves his wife, walks to the bar, positions himself behind multiple people and shoots, shoots, shoots and shoots. Each time he had to pull that trigger. There is no doubt about this intent. He fired on unarmed people."
'Lets go back to the other elements, assault first we have to prove Tim Reliford suffered injuries. He testified he was shot in the head. You saw his scars. Those are not going away. He's stuck with those for life. He's still alive, at least. He has vision impairment. He testified to constant ringining in his ears. You heard about the Glock 9mm, the deadly weapon. Combine those elements, with identity and intent, we have proved that assault charge.'
'Now for the attempted murder against Tory Rogers. We submit after he shot 2 people in the head as Tory turns away he is shot in the back where Tory's heart is. The defendant even said he was trying to run away. Tory was in a coma for a month, missed Christmas, the birth of his baby girl. We submit he tried to end Tory's life by shooting him with a fire arm. '
Now we move to the capital murder charge. We have to prove that he intentionally caused the death of Tank Beavers and Thurston Turner. Tank Beavers didn't even make it to the hospital. He died right there and bled out in the restaurant. After shooting Tank in the face, he shoots Thurston Turner in the mouth. His artery was nicked. You heard a paramedic with HEMSI say he was bleeding profusly from the mouth. Thurston lost is pulse right there at the restaurant. Through the heroic efforts of emergency personnel they kept him alive long enough to get him to the hospital. Thurston hung on for 9 days. He held on long enough for his family to say goodbye. Tank's family didn't get that priviledge. Did Jamal cause Thurston's death? Yes. You walk up to a bar, unarmed individuals, he started firing. Stays in one place and fires 4 time. All hell breaks lose as people run for their life. He ran out of the restaurant like a coward. I submit to you we have proven each and every element. You must return a verdict of guilty to every count. Thank you.
Alan Mann...'Did you ask Adell Shaker to lie? "Certainly not. We would never ask a witness to lie." You saw photographs of those coils? "He took three phots. We should have noticed something and took the time to question Dr. Shaker."
Don Rizzardi...'How many murder cases have you handled? "Over 100 probably." How many have the medical examiner been imposed? "The most recent one where Frankie Nunez was released from a capital murder case. We used Dr. Shaker in that case as well. There have been other cases as well."
Larry Morgan being cross examined by Don Rizzardo.
'I agree with Mr. Rizzardi that those emergency medical technicians out there are heroes." Once Mr. Turner became a patient of Huntsville Hospital did he respond to the lifesaving treatment? "The patient was saved." Do you know from the records when the embolization procedure was administered? First day, later? "Immediatly upon arrival at the hospital." Dr. Shaker's testimony varied Monday? "Yes." Why? "We had a conversation before he testified. We sat in the hall before he came in, his questions were do you think the state will be mad at me? He's state employed, professional, doesn't represent the prosecutions interest. They are there to answer questions honestly. Dr. Shaker was reluctant to answer the questions because of any personal repurcutions that may occur."
Cross examination by Don Rizzardi...'Did your testimony the first time have an affect on the case? "Yes." Do you think what you are doing here will have any "Yes the jury will take everything into consideration, the testimony, then they will decide the facts and the fate." Did you want Jamal to testify? "Its irrelevant. Its his decision." You couldn't stop him from testifying could you? "You put yourself in that seat as a witness. This is cross examination you can answer the questions just like everyone else." You couldn't stop him from testifying? "Judge he can't object sitting in this seat!! He is trying to talk to the court!"
You have any desire to see Jamal aquitted? (objection) "Just so I know, ask me again. My desire under my oath of office, same one that you take, rules of evidence, law, ethical laws, represent my client. We know that Mr. Woods has never dodged responsibilty for his actions." Didn't you hear him testify? (objection by defense) (Don Rizzardi) 'Judge this is cross examination. I get to ask the questions. (objection by defense)
When you got to ask questions, you asked Dr. Shaker 2 times to ask leading questions? "One time." No two times. "No only once. I only have the right to ask leading questions on cross examination." Couldn't you ask him the questions you talked about on Saturday? You didn't do it? "There are many reasons..."Its a simple question Mr. Morgan. It's yes or no. You will answer that (objection)! It requires a yes or no answer judge. "I did do it." Why didn't you stay on it? You are not limiited. "I can't direct a witneses to answer a question. He did not do it." You couldn't you have gone further with your questions? "Sure I could have but he informed me he was not going to answer that way because he was afraid of the response from the prosecution." You could have done something to fix it. You are telling the jury as an attorney you didn't do what you had a right, an obligation, to do. "We make the best judgement that we have at that time. The situation changed after his testimony that made me consider this. This is an unorthodox change." The change sir you decided was that this was the best strategy instead of asking Dr. Shaker? "No. I could have asked him I had no compelling reason to ask him. In this case we've been trying to present as much evidence as possible. Mr. Woods encountered conditioning as a youngster by his family on the streets of LA. On the part of anti-social behavor we have a trial strategy of presenting this to the jury as an intent. We present those things to the jury to give us a chance to argue. We present the testimony of the people we call to the stand to give us a plauseable argument, in the nature of a wreckless act. It puts a lot of pressure on defense attorneys when representing our client. There is a rule of professional conduct that says if our client wants us to change direction, we do so. We have an obligation to do this." Sir do you dispute that you used the word strategy 3 times? "You counted them. I guess so." You said 'we will do everything we can. "You don't dispute you said that." How long have you been a lawyer? "I'm in my 35 year." So you opted not to use the questions on a witness for your case? "We adapted." Dr. Shaker said cause of death is homicide. "Yes." He said there was no sign that Thurston Turner took his own life? "Maybe he did, I don't recall." I got to clear up one thing. You say you didn't get medical records until 4 days before trial. You could have gotten those when Mr. Turner died? "I'm aware of options." The autopsy you got from the time you came on the case. "When you provided us a copy." You had that a long time ago. "Yes." The testimony of Dr. Shaker as he puts it in his report, you agree this was your defendant's 14? "Yes." In part of the report embolization is a factor. Was it in the report? "It was."
Larry Morgan has withdrawn himself from the case to testify on behalf of his client! Here is his testimony.
'I'm Larry Morgan. We were appointed 2 years ago to represent Jamal Woods. I've been practicing law for 35 years. I've tried death penalty cases as a prosecutor and a defense attorney. I have testified before as a witness in a criminal case. Robert Tutten and I were appointed (objection by the state...ruling sustained). You recall testimony of Dr. Adell Shaker in this case. You've been involved and observed every minute of this proceeding. "Tried to. I remember his testimony." Priort to Dr. Shaker's testimony did you have a chance to speak with him? "Saturday 2/7/09. It was in response to a call from him on the afternoon of Friday the 6th. He called you. Thought you were a member of the attorneys involved in the civil cases. He basically raised some red flags. We called the judge to have him brought back as a witness. Don agreed to get Dr. Shaker back. " What was the subject matter? "I made the call to him, we exchanged calls at 2:10 pm on Saturday we talked about the red flags in his testimony. The subject matter was about conclusions drawn during postmortam autopsy of Mr. Turner." He came back on Monday of this week to testify. "Yes. I examined him as a witness." Based on his testimony, in response to questions from you and the state, did it vary in anyway? (objection on hearsay). Tell the jury what was different? "It was concerning his observations of the autopsy of Mr. Turner. We refered to his autopsy report on page 5, he talked about the embolization process, medical people tried to stem the flow of blood from Mr. Turner. He noted that in his examination he discovered the existance of very small metal coils with fabric within the coil to try to stem the flow of blood. In the conversation on Saturday he indicated and we talked about the various terms that he used, we talked about why embolization is important. He assisted me in preparing questions to ask him. In talking to him on Saturday, I wanted to make sure that we were on the same sheet of music. He suggested questions that I should ask him. One of the questions 'is there a more simple procedure to accomplish the goal of embolization?' he said an incision would be made and a stitch put across the artery." What about complexity of that procedure. "Any intern in a cave in Africa would successfully accomplish the embolization by ligation." He indicated that in his experience the coil to stop blood was unconventional. It would not meet the prime weight. An intern would turn to a more simple procedure than this. In that, his comments to me were, 'it appeared the doctors at the hospital had written Mr. Turner off and they were experimenting as it were on a dead horse. There was references to multiple coils. The hospital records from Mr. Turner that refered to embolization when did you receive the hospital records? "Morning of 1/22/09. The trial started 1/26/09. THere were 455 pages in that record." Have you ever heard of this procedure? "I knew so little I didn't know to ask the question. We filed a motion to dispose Dr. Shaker. It was not granted." You recall Dr. Shaker's testimony about a conclusion in the hospital records? "I recall he wasn't in agreement with saying this was a non-surviveable injury. Dr. Shaker stuck to his conclusion of manner of death and cause of death." Did he maintain his opposition to the premiss that Mr. Turner could not have survived this injury. "Would a proper surgical intervention have saved his life. Dr. Shaker said yes." He did a full postmortam exam on Mr. Turner and reviewed all of the records. "He viewed all the records before performing the postmortam." You ask him why he did not put these things in his autopsy report? "I don't recall if I ask that specifically." He mentioned the coil in his autopsy report. "I didn't know enough about that to ask the question." He put it was a contributing factor to the demise of Mr. Turner. "That report is in evidence." Even on the stand on Monday he qualified that statement. What did he say "It would be a major contributing factor. That was a red flag he threw up to us. Because he inidicated to us on Saturday he committed to answer the questions that were asked, what a good witness would do, not offer anything, no one asked him those questions, that's what prompted him to call you."
Court is back in session. Larry Morgan has asked to be put on the stand to testify. He is lead counsel for Jamal Woods.
'We are doing it under the law. I understand the state is displease with us.'
Judge his testimony will be complete and utter hearsay without exception. Its hearsay at its basic and most complex. The moment you put him on the stand I'm going to object everything he says."
"Letters used in this case were hearsay. The state found a way around the court to use them as evidence. He put them on. It was hearsay. We are allowed to impeach witnesses. 15 years ago I did the same thing."
'Judge Hamilton...I will allow you to reopen the defesne case to do whatever you think you need to do."
For whatever reason, court is starting late this morning. Everybody is here, not sure what the hold up is.
Check back for updates!
February 11, 2009
Attorneys on both side have rested their case. The jury will be going home early. Tomorrow morning we will hear closing arguments and then the jury will be charged and sent back to deliberate.
Cross examine by Don Rizzardi...'How many times have you testified in a criminal case? "Once a few years ago. It was child abuse." Don't you find it strange in this case you were told not to type up a report? "No. Its not unusual." What's your thought on the death penalty? "I think only God has the right to claim a man's life. Anytime somebody takes a life its morally wrong." So what Jamal did is morally wrong? "Yes." This anti social behavior you don't know if that happened the night of the shooting. "I know he has a disorder. I was not there that night." You trying to tell this jury if they have that disorder they have a break from reality? "At no part of my testimony did I say that." What is narsacism? "You can do no wrong, difficult time appreciating other peoples perspective. Many people have anti social traits that don't have the disorder." What is irresistable impulse? "Drive to act a specific way, they could not resist and acted in a certain way." This gang activity, who told you about that? "Mr. Woods described it. He never said he was in a gang. I made notes of my interviews but didn't bring them all with me." You testified how somebody with anti social disorder might react. How much time would have to lapse if something bad was thrust on them? "The anti social personality is always there. That's not a switch that gets flipped you are always that way."
'You have testified that the diagnosis affects actions. "Yes." Give the jury an idea of the results of certain tests, like an IQ test. "The verbal part of that was given to Jamal Woods. He had a score of 114, high or above average range. When I tested him, I administered an entire battery, his IQ was 104, which is in the average range. His memory was excellent, working memory involving numbers was outstanding. He was good at problem solving." Is there anything about Mr. Woods that would cause him to form intent. "There are no cognative measures that conclude intent. His life long behavior pattern, threatened, disrespecting him he is very likely to respond in a predictable way. There are many situations where he wouldn't think impulsively, but put into hot cognition cases he's going to want to get active, agressive, overreact. When he felt challenged, that's how he responded."
After a break court is back in session. On the stand, as the last witness for the defense, Dr. Josehp Ackerman, pediatric neuropsychologist at UAB. Dr. Ackerman was sworn in as an expert witness. He is being questioned by attorney Larry Morgan.
'Tell the jury how you became involved in this case. "I was contacted in August last year by Cirus Johnson to see if I would conduct a neuropsychology exam. He felt this individual needed the examination. I agreed to do the case." Describe the procedures. "I began with the information provided to me, conducted a direct examination of Mr. Woods at the jail (intelligence, memory, language, attention, capacity for self control). I interviewed Rotesia Woods by phone and meet with the psycologist why provided the first examination." Are the test methods represent acceptable scientific standards? "Yes they do."What were your findings? "Mr. Woods is very intelligent. I found no evidence of neuro impairment to understand what was going on. He presented as having well developed memory skills, math skills, think very rapidly on complex solving tasks he did good on." Based on your meeting, did you arrive at a diagnosis in this case? "Yes. Anti social personality disorder. Ingrained life long trait. The way the person responds to reality, shaped very early in life. There's 7 criteria. You have to meet 3 to be diagnosed. Mr. Woods meets some of the criteria like failure to conform to social norms, decietfulness, irritability, wreckless disregard. I noticed he did display remorse but would come up with arguments about why he did it. He certainly had a very strong positive affection for his family, his mother and wife and of course his children. A lot of the unfortunate decisions he's made in life show he protects and provides for his family. The key he attempted to be a good father/husband. He was doing a good job by providing for his family, keep away from his drug trade. I think those reflected a genuine desire to protect and care for his family. But then there is the lack of regard of how you go about doing that." As a part of the information you gathered did you discover typical things about his upbringing? "Your early experiences impact how you will view the world and react to it later in life. In some early years he was exposed to the LA gang culture. That was very instrumental in who he became. His role model to this day, which is critical, was a big gang member, highly respected because he was a big bad man. He took nothing off nobody and if you did you would pay for it. I think that formed his identity early on." Have you discovered in your dealings with Jamal information concerning conflicts throughout his life. "There is a very clear pattern. If he felt threatened, in any way, he responded to that with overwhelming force. If he viewed you in his group, not challening, he could be very kind, warm and supportive. If he viewed you as crossing him, he would respond with aggression. There would be no question who won or was top dog in that fight."
'Let me ask you doctor, can you give us an opinion as to the mental operation suffering from this condition. "The basic approach with this disorder is self preservation, I matter more than anything and maintaining that rule. In speaking with Mr. Woods he gave me a great quote, "I don't view myself having a problem with authority, as long as they aren't asking me to do anything that doesn't make sense." When he went into a conflict situation, take care of himself and make sure he came out ok." (objection by Alan Mann, I object that the prosecutor is standing by the witness. (Rizzardi) Judge when he was testifying he was reading something. That is part of his report to which we haven't been provided with. (Morgan) Judge there is no report. (Judge...hold on. let me send the jury out of the room)
The defense has one final witness to call to the stand. He will not be available until 1:00 this afternoon.
On the stand for the defense, Kevin Turner, Investigator with the District Attorneys office in Huntsville.
"I handle all the gang investigations, gang detail for Huntsville and Madison County, I'm with the Major Crimes Unit...etc." Your father was a HPD Detective. "Yes sir. 39 years. I've been an investigator for 15 years. I've been in law enforcement a total of 16 1/2 years. I started with the Madison County Sheriff's Department." What training makes you qulified to work in gang activities? (discusses background/education/training) "I go out on the street and work. There is no better experience than that. The first 8 years was spent gathering gang intel. The last 5 years I spent with the STAC Unit. We handle gang investigations, structured selling narcotics that type thing." All your questions will deal with gang members. There are no allegations in this case that Jamal is a gang member. You are going to testify to the facts? "Yes sir, I will tell you the truth."
Kevin in your training and experience give me a brief overlay of what you know about gang culter in South Central LA. "I'll say this as a gang expert, you are only as good an expert if you work in that area. I need to clarify that before we go any further. Me, as a gang investigator the influences here, structured or involved, is totally different than what you see in Los Angeles. I've never worked there or done a ride along. I have friends that work there." What do you know about the interaction of gang members in that area? "Cryps and Bloods originated there. In LA its more organized as far as turf and colors. When you talk about gangs, gang banging, turf, around here its not over turf its about narcotics. In LA you better belong to whatever gang is on that block. If not, you've got questions to answer, who are you with, what neighborhood are you with." What could happen if you are caught on the wrong side? "You could get jumped, beat up, shot, stuff stolen, lot of different things could happen." In your training/experience do you know anything about the characteristics of gangsters? "Yes sir." Had any experince with gangsters here or South Central LA how they deal with respect or disrepsect? "When you are a gang member and at a certain stature, like a full fledge gang member, a level of respect comes with that. If someone disrespects you or makes you look beneath where you are in that gang, they (the gangster) feels like they have to act on it." What are those acts? "There's been times when someone marked out another gang's graffiti. A particular group, even around here, if they wear the other gangs colors that's a sign of disrespect. Not every gang member is the same. They all make their own decisions in each situation." How have people acted in shows of disrespect? "Jumping on that individual, car jacking, firing rounds at one another."
'I'm going to read something to you from a book about gangs. It was published in 2008... 'emotionally and verbally any comment to a gang member, like you are a p***y or a fag will end in a violent response.' Can that happen? "Yes." Larry Morgan continues to read...'Despite a members violent behavior, they are often able to manifest a good guy personality until their ego is being attacked.' Do you agree with that statement? "It can apply to any individual but from what you read, I'll say yes." Quote page 54...'Gangsters see females as objects to be used to fulfill their sexual needs.' Do you agree with that statement? "I can agree with the part of them being used. There are certain situations where females are to hold narcotics or carry weapons." Page 56...'Because of their dysfuncational background, gangsters have a limited concern on whether they live or die.' Do you agree or disagree. "I don't know if I agree with that. The individuals I'm around, well they live a lifestyle similar to that, so yes I guess I do agree with that."
Cross examine by Don Rizzardi...'Do you know Jamal in the gang society. "No I've heard his name in the drug realm but I had never met or seen Jamal until Mr. Morgan contacted me."
On the witness stand now, Bart Sessions high school teacher and football coach at Prattville High School.
'I'm an assistant coach there. I've been in the teaching profession for 14 years. I worked for Davidson High School as a weight lifiting instructor as well as a football and baseball coach. From 2000-2007 I was employed there." Did you know Jamal Woods? "He was a player on our team. I was his position coach. He was a line backer. I saw Jamal daily. He was on the team for 3 years." Did you form an association with Jamal? "Certainly." Did you observe him on a daily basis. "Yes sir in weight lifting class and coaching." Did you ever observe Jamal get into alteractions? "Yes sir. Yes sir I did. I saw it maybe a couple of times. One, kind of stands out a little more than the others." You ever seen him get into an altercation where he wasn't provoked? "That's a hard question to answer." You remember one incident more than another. "Yes one that was violent. In this particular fight we had to barricade them (Jamal and another player) in 2 different rooms. It got to the point where we had to send them home to get away from each other." Were there physical injuries? "Nicked up, bruised up, bloody lip, bloody nose that type thing." Ever know Jamal to initiate a fight with another player? "No not specifically." Have you had communication with Jamal? "No sir we lost touch. I knew he was in this area but lost touch through the years." You have communiction with Jamal's mother? "I sat in on a meeting with Coach Vickery. We talked in general terms, his mothers concerns about him getting into trouble." Anything else about Jamal? "Jamal and I had a good relationship. When I heard about this I was somewhat shocked. I guess he lost control of the situation there. Other than that we had a good relationship. It shocks me that we are here today."
Cross by Don Rizzardi. 'Was it clear you didn't want anymore fighting? "Certainly." Who was the aggressor? "Both young men were trying to get back at each other." Who broke up the fight a second time. "Coaches, several of them." What did you think when yuo heard about the shooting? "Shocked. Heartbroken. Could we have done something to stop it or prevent the change. I would never imagine him doing it."
Welcome back! Court is now in session. Defense attorneys are calling their first witness of the morning. Glen Vickery, head football coach at Daphne High School is now testifiying.
'Do you know Jamal Woods? "Yes sir. I was head football coach at Davidson High School. He was a student athlete. I coached him in varsity football. I knew him 3 years. After he graduated did you have communication with him? "Yes he called me once. He came back to one of our games after he left for school at A&M. When I was coaching, Jamal was an outside line backer on our defense." You had a chance to see and observe him. "Yes everyday." Ever see him in conflicts with other students or athletes." One occassion after practice, we were in our dressing facility. There was an alteraction between Jamal and another player were going at it pretty good. That day the fight wasn't going to end unless 3 or 4 coaches got involved. It was pretty violent." What caused that fight? "We separated them talked about it. Horseplay in the locker room. It was nothing major but it became major during the fight. It happened around 6:00 in the evening." Did it take several coaches to separate them? "Yes. I was there that time and another time as well." You say it was normal horseplay? "I think the other young man threw something or did something to Jamal that was inapprorpiate. It set him off, at his own teammate." How long did it take to break up the fight? "Seemed like forever. Maybe 30 seconds. In this case it was pretty violent. I don't think they cared who was around. It was one versus one. Usually if there was a fight in the field house or on the field and no serious injury we would run them until they couldn't run them anymore. We felt it was 2 kids that lost it and we handled it in house." "On several times mom and I would talk on the phone. I'm worried about Jamal. He said this or that last night. Anything I could do to help. Obviously there was something at home his mother was worried about. I care and love kids. I spent a lot of time with Jamal in those situations trying to talk. Later in the year Jamal got a letter saying he would not graduate due to excessive unexcused absences. I walked in, Jamal exploded. Jamal was on the floor in the main office. 2 coaches on top of him. Being a guy that loved Jamal, it tore me up that it happened. It was past that point, there was not talking. Jamal grabbed a stapler hit me in the face, blood went everywhere. He didn't know who was doing the restraining. It was a very terrible day in my life, for a player that I loved for this to happen. This was the worse time I remember Jamal losing it." In the 3 years you knew him and since then is there another Jamal Woods out there? "Yes sir. I told him I loved him, he said he loved me. The phone call I remember most was from Jamal at A&M. Jamal called and said coach I'm really sorry. It really tore my heart out that he apologized. He was very sincere. That was very touching. That was better than any state championship I ever won. Jamal was the kind of kid that we spent a lot of time together, talking about the way things should be at home. We became close especially his senior year. He was a quiet kid, he wasn't loud or run around. To us, he was a coaches player. Then in that moment of just losing it, it was very strange. He's very level headed that surprised me. I could feel I won him over as someone he could have confidence in and believe in." Did Jamal ever attack someone without reason? "No sir."
Cross examination by Don Rizzardi. 'You said there were 2 large coaches on top of Jamal. What happened? "He wasn't going to graduate because of excessive absences. When they enforced the no graduation he just lost it. I think it was inappropriate for a 17 year old kid wanting to graduate high school to receive a letter like that." Jamal got suspended for 3 semesters from A&m you know that? "No." Was the Jamal you know a dope head? "No." What was your reaction to the shooting? "I got sick to my stomach. That's not the Jamal I know."
Jamal Woods testimony is now finished. The jury has been sent home for the day.
More cross examination by Don Rizzardi. I did not blog all of this because a lot of it was repeat testimony about the night of the shooting and a few incidents from Jamal's life that were talked about earlier.
'Let's move on. You told us what happened that night. I didn't hear the part where you cocked the slide of the gun. "When I left the apartment." You told the jury you went back to the table and sat down. How did you approach the bar? "Back side and came up that way. I walked right up on him (Tank). We were 2 feet away. I was in the bar about a minute."
After the shooting...."We got a room at the LaQuinta Inn after the shooting. Ms. Blackmon got the room it was in her name. I can't get a room, I had no ID on me. I called and checked on my kids. I called Norman Rogers I needed to get rid of my car. It was sitting in a neighborhood off Holmes." Did Tara stay with you? "Yea." What did you do? Sit around and watch television or stare at each other? "We did nothing. I was trying to make calls for somebody to get rid of my car. I was outside waiting for Norman. I don't know what Tara did. Norman and I got in the car. Kymetta called me on the phone. I told her to meet me in New Project (close to the courthouse). She wanted a sack of cocaine. She called me cause I supplied her. I told her I would give her an 8 ball for free if she drive my car." What you let the drug go for? "$100.00. Kim got in the back seat of Norman's car. I told her what I needed to do. My focus was on my kids and getting rid of my car."
More testimony with prosecutors and Jamal Woods.
'You write this? "Yea that's my signature." Read this part. "I love my wife. If you were there I would have done the same thing (speaking to Tara Blackmon). I love you too. If you love me you would know what to do and not what to do. You supposed to guard your body and heart and let no man get close to it." What did you mean? "What you think I mean? Probably talking about what I did." So it doesn't matter if your wife was there, you would have done the same thing (referring to the shooting). "She aked in her letter if I love her, she said I didn't kill anybody for her so I must not love her." You heard your wife testify about a $3,000 ring. No ring instead she has a tattoo. "It was my idea."
'You recognize that? "Yes sir. Its a letter I wrote. I signed it. It says love your future husband. Don't know who it was written too." You have visitation, who visits? "My wife. Tara." Read this. "Hey baby how you doing? Been eating? I hope so. You better do something special for me when I get out and show me how much you love me. Get a tattoo on your neck that says Mrs. Woods." You want your wife to do that and Ms. Blackmon? "Yes sir. A tattoo shows love and its with you forever."
'You recognize this letter? "I need to read it first. Its written to Ms. Blackmon." Read it please. "You my girl for life. We stuck for life and our baby will too. F**k Tesia! We will be together forever. Yea, I said it. I mean it. Again I'm telling Ms. Blackmon what she wants to hear." When you use foul language to a lady doesn't that show disrespect? "I didn't mean none of it."
Do you recognize this letter? "Its signed by me." Read this part please. "Your baby daddy, your husband and friends. It's writtent to Tara." In that letter don't you talk about your appropriate sentence in this case? "Let's look at it. I don't think so." Read here..."I'm trying damn hard to come on to you girl. Its hard to sleep without you next to me. I speak whats real, nothing fake. You can't wait I understand real life s***. Its hard to be yourself. Try to holla. For the next 10 years you got to be by yourself, its all on you, I'm not saying I'm getting out but its all on you." Why 10 years? "I'm not familiar with the law. Have no idea how long I will be in or if I will ever get out" Didn't you tell Ms. Blackmon a sentence of 10 years is appropriate for killing 2 people. "No. I never said." Are you sure?
Judge we move to admit this exhibit. You recognize this? "I wrote it. Its to Ms. Blackmon." Read this page. "I'm sorry about mistakes I've made. I'm crying inside. I don't want to let you go. You are not as ready as I want you to be. I care about you. You are special and you will be ok. You are supposed to start a new job. Stay strong and focused on life. I f***** up mine. My baby is sick and Tesia is going to have to take off work. She'll probably lose her job. Please give her $1500 dollars so they can eat. You need anything, write me, you know where I am and when I get out we can be together again. I love you girl more than you will ever know. I am here with no place to go. Best friends forever." You asking your girlfriend to give your wife $1500 of drug money? "Yes." Let's go back. That's a letter already admitted into evidence. Who is the letter addressed? "Ms. Blackmon." Ever feel the need to keep Ms. Blackmon in line? "What you mean? When you said you would smash out her window and flatten her tire if she talked to another man. It was a joke between us. You don't get it."
Cross examination by Don Rizzardi.
'You been on the stand now for 3 hours. You talked a lot. We are going to cover a lot of things. When you came back from Mobile where you working? "When I left home to get an apartment, Cinram."
'So you are a drug dealer. "Yes." How much you make? "$2-3,000 a week in cash." Did Brandon run stuff for you? "No." Who helped with your business? "Me mainly. Sometimes Tara Blackmon. At the time she was my girlfriend. I called her Tara. Her street name was Red Bomb." How many girls you have? "Just one girlfriend. I knew a lot of females." Since you been locked up you correspond with your wife? "Yea the whole time. I call her I write." What about Tara? "I called and wrote for the first month I was there." When did you go to jail? "December 18, 2006." You were still writing her on Valentine's Day in 2007? "No sir. The last thing I wrote her was in the begining of February."
'What is this? "A letter." You wrote this? "Yes sir. How does it start out? "Happy Valentine's Day." So you did correspond with Ms. Blackmon on Valentine's Day? "I pre-write all my stuff. My wife Tesia has got one on the mail now. I do everything early." Read this part. "P.S. I sent you a gift. Hope you like it. Tesia didn't get one. I hope its special to you like it is to me." You held her (Tara) sacred to your wife? "No I only got one wife. I told Tara whatever she wanted to hear to keep my business (drug) going." There are times you referred to Tara Blackmon as Tara Woods. Was she your wife? "No sir." Who is this letter addressed too? "Tara Woods." There are times when you would talk about the events of December 17, 2006. "If you say so." You know of a song? (Jamal speaks of a wrap song by Gucci Man..."shot one, shot 2 shot 3 1/2 times...wasn't me." You just laughed. Is that funny? "I recited a song by another person. That's all." Are these letters you wrote? Who are they written too? "Tara." Hows it signed. "J. Woods. I love you." Read this..."I called Tesia at 9:30 as usual the whole time I was on the phone I was hoping you would beep in. You didn't. I feel like you gave up on us." That same letter read the last sentence. "I know you don't want to hear this but I prefer Tesia never know about us. When we have our first child, she doesn't need to know. I can't handle the drama that's wrong." Is that disrespecting your wife? Iif she found out about me having a girlfriend? Yes."
'What is this? Who is it signed by? "Me."What does it say? Love you. Addressed to Ms. Blackmon." Start here and read. "Don't give up on me, we are still in this together forever....try to bare with me. I got to go home. Smile for me. I love you." You have a wife and 2 kids, you are saying a third one is on the way. "We were talking about the future. I got no more kids. Again I tell her what she want to hear." Being disrespectful is ok as long as you pay the bills? "No." You recognize this? Who is it to? "My homey. Ms. Blackmon." How is it signed off? "Love J "mother f***** Woods."
"Kemyatta Summers called me that morning wanting a sack (of dope). I left my car behind Holmes Avenue." You heard her testimony about her agreement. "She wanted a sack I told her I would give her an 8 ball if she drove my car." You heard the police officer talk about when he got you out of the car when you were arrested. What were you thinking? "Its time to man up. Its time to man up, its over with. Norman ask if he wanted me to punch it. I said naawww I don't want anybody else to get killed."
Was it in your mind that you could escape the price for this. "I was still in a state of shock. I couldn't think that far ahead. I was running on adrenaline. I was wanting to get rid of the car to spend time with my kids. I was handcuffed and put in the car. I was worried about my family." You regret what happened that night? "Very much so." Is that what you intended to happen when you started out that evening? "No sir."
What do you want to say Jamal to this court? "There's some good people over here that's suffered. I've been waiting to send my condolences. I never intended for this to happen. I'm sorry and I regret everyday you lost your children. I know what that feels like. I miss my children too. I'm very sorry. I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I didn't want any of this to happen. I never intended for this to happen. Not when I went to get that gun, left that table went to the bar. They were good men. I don't want you to feel that pain. If I could take it back I would. For 2 years and the rest of my life I got to deal with this. Please accept my apology even though I can't take it back. Please accept my apology."
Based on what you said, you expect anybody to excuse you? "Probably wont and dont expect them to. I don't excuse myself." You know there are consequences for your actions. "Yes sir."
'Jamal before the lunch break you told us about getting a handgun. "Yes sir." How long did it take to get the gun and get back to the restaurant? "10-15 minutes." When you got back to the restaurant where was it on your person? "On the way back to the restaurant it was in my lap. When I got back I couldn't decide if I should leave it in the car or take it with me. I decided to take it inside in case things popped off (escalated). There were 4 people at the bar. All of them was taller than me. I didn't know any of them." Why did you take it inside? "I didn't know if the situation was going to escalate. Just in case things popped off and I couldn't get to the car." Did you know if any of the men at the bar were armed? "I don't put it past anybody." You made the decision to get the gun. "I put it in my waistband in the middle. Had my shirt over my pants. I walked back to my table and sit down. I didn't go to the bar because it wasn't an issue yet. The gun was a precaution." You intend to kill anybody? "No sir. I was pissed off, angry, upsest. It was for precaution. I never meant to hurt anybody." What did you do and what was said? "I came back, sat down and as soon as I did the appetizers had arrived. I looked up, don't know who, tapped Mr. Beavers on the shoulder he looked back at me and started smiling. I asked my wife 'you mean something not g, oing on between you and that dude?' She said 'I swear nothing like that I know him from school.' I feel like she was telling the truth. They were being disrespectful."
You heard Rotesia testify that while you were gone they didn't notice any of this going on. "Yes sir." When you came back and sat down what did you see at the bar. "They had there backs turned to me. I tasted one of the potato wedges we got. It was awful. I looked up and saw somebody tap Mr. Beavers on the shoulder and questioned my wife again. She said no." You make any comment to anybody at your table about your thoughts? "Nawww she said I swear its nothing like that. You telling me they being disrespectful. You better hope its not something you not telling me. I'm about to go find out."
Then what happened? "I wanted to get at the bottom line. They really being disrespectful. I wanted to know if Rotesia was having a relationship with these dudes." How long did you sit at the table when you came back into the restaurant? "30-45 seconds." You make any comment to the people at the bar. "Not until I got up." Did your party try to keep you seated. "Rotesia said sit back down. I told her I was going to find out what the f*** was going on. I walked up to the bar, stepped in between Mr. Beavers and the man to his right. I was about 2 feet from them. I said you aint got no reason to speak to me or my mother f***** wife. I was talking to Mr. Beavers. He was turned around in his seat facing me. The others were looking." After you said that what did Mr. Beavers say "I can speak to her. She's my mother f****** cousin. I said 'is this a game to you?' He said n***** that's my mother f***** cousin." Were you close enough to him to make any kind of judgement on whether he was consuming alcohol. "I don't know. I yelled back across the restauarant and asked my wife if this was her cousin. She said no. She stood up and said no. That's it. I believed her. Mr. Beavers say 'you want to do something about it f**k n****r.' I told him to 'slow his roll boy I got my iron on you.' He said f*** you and your mother f****** gun. He stood up and I saw Mr. Turner and Mr. Rogers stand up." Did they say anything? "No. I just spoke to Mr. Beavers. I took one step back, I could see the other 2 standing up. I pulled my pistol out and started shooting. I was reacting to the immediate threat I felt. It wasn't about a gun. It was about 3 people and only 1 of me." Was that a resonable response? "Nobody deserve to die. They did though." You recall how many shots you fired? "4 shots." You heard testimony that you pointed the gun in the face of a female. "Naaa that never happened. I never pointed a gun to them. They didn't draw my attention. They never waved. I didn't even know they were at the restaurant until the proceedings started." You recall shooting Mr. Beavers? "Yes. I fired the gun at Mr. Turner and Mr Rogers." Did you aim at Mr. Reliford? "No don't know him." What made you stop shooting. "The threat was over. I shot at Mr. Beavers, Mr. Turner and Mr. Rogers. I'm not saying its self defense. I reacted to the immediate threat that was posed to me."
After the shooting, the video shows you running out of the restaurant. "I was in more shock than anybody in this courtroom. I was in a state of shock. Couldn't believe it happened. When they stood up, time slowed down, as soon as I fired that last shot, everything sped up. I didn't know how to react. I was like 'dang' and I left." How old are you? "24. I've never shot anybody before that day."
After the shooting where did you go? "I got in my car, sat there a second. I was in shock. I crunk my car up went to my apartment." You heard testimony from Norman Rogers said you called him. "Yes I did call him. He was my partner, my homeboy. I called him because I knew he could help me get rid of my car." Was the restaurant busy that night? "Yes it was very busy." What did you think would happen when you opened fire in a busy place. "I didn't think about the people. 3 were standing up on me. I had to do something." What was going through your mind when you called Norman. "I was thinking about my kids. Wanted to make sure they were alright. When it happened I called my wife's cousin. Told her to get the money out of the safe and get my kids to a hotel room. I knew I had to get rid of that car. The only description they had of me was 5'9-6' tall. That wasn't much. Then I heard them say he's in a 70's model Chevell." Did you think you would get away? "I didn't know. Everything was moving so fast. I thought I got to get my kids. My girl (Rotesia) was at the , precinct. I called momma and told her I wanted to come home."
Court is in recess until 1:30.
Questioning of Jamal Woods by the defense continues.
"If I don't know you but know your girl, I'm not going to speak to your girl,, in front of you. If I know both of you, that's different. I hold my woman and my jewels sacred." Your actions didn't always follow your words? "My wife and my kids are dear to my heart." Did you have a reason to believe Rotesia had been with these guys? "Never doubted her before. It wasn't her, actions that made me doubt. It was there actions. Mr. Beavers flipped me off."
Were more than one turning to face you? "2 of them. It was Mr. Beavers and I think Mr. Turner." You mentioned you pointed to your wedding ring. "It wasn't like I was projecting my voice. I just said she married. I wanted him to know." Is it fair to say at this point you can't hear any words being said? "No sir." So t, he gesture with his hand, you saw that? "Yes sir." After that point, did you turn back around? "I ask my wife again and she said no they didn't talk to me in school don't know why they are talking to me now. I stood up and told him to 'turn the f**k around.' He started laughing like the s*** was funny or something. They never took their eye off me. They laughed and one got up to talk to somebody else in their party. Mr., Bevears did turn around then."
Then what happened? "I knew the situation would escalate. I left to get my pistol." Why did you think that? "You could tell the way they were looking. You could sense it. I didn't want to be caught slipping (being without your pistol). Brandon and Chauncey tucked tail and left, like I knew they would. 4 black males were sitting at the bar. I never saw the Lucas sisters at the bar." You decided to leave. Did you say anything? "Naww I just got up. Brandon came out. I went to the car to get something to drink. I was pissed off. I wanted a smoke and drink. I went to look for my ID. My pistol wa, sn't under my front seat. Its usually with me wherever I go. Did you think the gun was in the car? "Brandon came out and asked if I was straight. I told him I was tripping but I wasn't tripping (mad but not to the point of snapping yet). I was originally looking for my ID then realized my gun wasn't in the car. So, I hopped in my car and drove to my apartment at Candlewood. I had several guns there. I got my Glock 9 milimeter." Did you go straight there, get the gun and come back? "Yes."
Testimony continues with Jamal Woods on the stand. He is being questioned by defense.
'I just bought a new bedroom set for a Christmas present. It didnt match the new furniture. Me and Brandon Rucker went out and bought an entertainment center. We were putting it together. My wife came home, wanted some money to go to McDonalds for dinner. I didn't want her eating dinner there. She said she wanted to go to a Mexican Restauarnt. I wanted to go to TGi Fridays. Its a neutral site. She agreed." You have a weapon on you? "No sir. Sundays are family day. I got an apartment where I do my business." You a father of the year? "No. I was working for my household."
Who picked who up and how did you hook up? "Brandon been with me since Saturday night. We went to the Mexican restaurant with Tara (Blackmon) that day. We went shopping for an enteratinment center. Wife, came home, said she was hungry. Chauncey Davis pulled up when we were leaving. Said he didn't have any money. Told him not a problem. Chauncey hopped in my Chevell and we left." Was he a drug dealer? "Yes sir. He didn't make as much money as me. Brandon was kind of a flunky. He worked a job, get a paycheck, quit. Try to put dope in his hands, he would flip it then spend the cash. I've paid for a lot of things for both of them. Brandon was kind of like my son. If his lights got cut off I paid it. I tried to keep peace in his household (between Brandon and his wife)." Were you getting along with Rotesia? "Yes sir." You got into your car. Who is it registered to? "My wife. I was driving, my wife was in the front passenger seat, Brandon was behind me, Chauncey behind Rotesia." Anybody intoxicated or high? "No sir. You can't really eat when you on the side of drugs. No appetite."
You saw the video inside the restaurant. You have any dispute with times you showed up? "No sir." We watched the video yesterday. You recall seeing your party come in the restaurant? "Yes sir." You were on the cell phone? "Yes. Everybody was in a good mood. We go out to eat a lot. 3-5 times a week. We like to get drunk, have a good time, relax. We can have some laughs, drinks.' Were you there to do a drug deal or fight? "Treat my wife to dinner and my homeboys." It appears you were holding your pants in the video. "I bought them real real baggy. Sometimes they will fall. I didn't want them to fall in the middle of the restaurant." Do you recall seeing your hand on your pants? "Both hands were on my pants when I put my phone down." The diagram introduced into evidence shows where you were sitting, you dispute that? "No sir." When you first came in and sat down, what di, d you do? "Everybody sat down, we were looking at the menu. Something about the night just didn't got as usual. For the longest time we talked about every meal on the menu." Did you order any drinks? "I ordered water, Tesia ordered water and Brandon and Chauncey ordered beer." You didn't order because you left your ID? "I hadn't had an ID since I was 17 and I just had one made on the Friday before. My license was revoked for speeding."
At what point did you see Mr. Beavers and his party walk into the restaurant. "We were at the table, Chauncey said someobody trying to get your attention. I seen Mr. Beavers waving. I'd never seen any of these people (in Beavers party)in my life. I didn't know who he was. When you see somebody waving, he pointed at my wife. I ask if she knew him and she said they went to school together. I waved back but he was waving at my wife." What did she say? "She went to school with him. "When he pointed at my wife and she didn't acknowledge him, he should have turned around. He didn't. I didn't take notice of any waving until Chauncey told me." What happened next? "He still looking back at our table. I'm like you just went to school with him. She said yea he was a grade behind me. I'm trying to figure out why he's still looking back at my table. She didn't make eye contact with him. The first time when I looked up, Tank was waving. I waved like I don't know him but 'what up?' He pointed at my wife I said 'you know these n*****s.' He's still smiling. It threw me off. If that's all it was why is he still smiling. You must have a relationship for him to keep looking." You see Rotesia wave back? "Nawww she didn't acknowledge him at all." When you looked up at the bar, were they looking at you? "Yes sir."
'Why were you a drug dealer? "To support my family. I never said it was right." You love Rotesia? "With all my heart and soul." Does she love you? "I hope so." You heard testimony about things that were found in your house. "Yes sir." Why did you have those things (i.e ammo, guns)? "When you were in the business I was in, there's a lot of cons. People seeing you make a lot of money, you become a target. You got to have protection." In the business you were engaged in, was that a safe business? "No, no, not safe at all." You are not claiming to be a choir boy? "Far from it." Perfect husband? "No sir. "Perfect citizen? "No sir."
Yesterday, somebody testified about an incident at the jail. You remember that? "Yes sir. I had been there about a year." You like to pick fights? "No." There's been an exhibit entered into evidence, a report of what happened that day. What was going on. What happend? "I was in D-3 upstairs in the jail. You got single man cells, 4 on the right, 4 on the left and a hallway. It was a Sunday. Mom drove all the way from Mobile to visit. During our visit, one of the inmates took off his clothes and started playing with his d**k in front of my mother. He had a cup of piss sitting on the end of his bed. He threw that piss at me. He disrespected my mother. I told them (jailers) I wasn't going back to my cell until you open his. The deputy gave him a write up. I told him that doesn't take away the disrespect." What was your mother's reaction. "She was telling me to calm down, over and over. She said focus on me. I told her I can't do that. He pulled his d**k out in front of my mother. She wanted me to let it go. I couldn't. That's my mother. What would you do if that was your momma (speaking to defense attorney Alan Mann). What if I pulled my d**k out in front of your mother?" Did your mother react? "No but we were both disrespected." The deputies wrote this report and said you became irate. "Yes I became very irrate. My focuse was on Derrick Stricklan, d (inmate)." What did you think would happen to you? "Didn't matter."
The jury is back from a short break Testimony with Jamal Woods continues.
'We were talking about things your mother taught you. "She told me to be conservative with money. She told me to save money. Always make sure you have a plan B. She taught me to handle my checkbook. She always told me to earn what you get, if its given to you, you won't appreciate it." When was your first job? "God Father's Pizza in Mobile. I took orders, prepared pizza, cashier. I was 15. It was during the off season of football." What other jobs have you worked? "Landscaping but that didn't work out for me. Oh I also worked at Westin as a telemarketer." You started school at Alabama A&M. When was that? "2002. I was in school for 3 semesters." What happened? "Got into a fight, got expelled (later would say suspended for 3 semesters). It's really a long story. It started on a Friday. We snuck in a females room, having a party, had beer and marijuana. One of the females was feeling me and another dude that was there was feeling this girl (in other words they liked each other) She wasn't giving him any attention cause I was there. We ran out of weed so I went back to my dorm room to get some more weed. I tried to come back and the dude wouldn't let me. I tried to avoid confrontation. Dude snapped the window in my face. We exchanged words. I told him he was a coward. I told him if I saw him slipping in anyway I was going to get him. Weekend goes by I don't see dude. I come into the cafeteria on Monday, I swiped my meal card, sat at the table. I saw dude and reminded him of what happened. I told him I could see he didn't want to fight. I get up and dude kicks over the table making a scene. When you are in that enviornment, everybody surrounded me. I went back, he picked up a tray, he refused to calm down. I whipped him. We fell into the glass he broke when he flipped the table. He had a lot of glass in his face and arms. They set a hearing for me in October. They expelled me from school." You think about the consequences? "No. He was making a scene, he flipped over the table knocked over the chairs. If I looked away it would make me look like a b***h, fag, coward. You got to stand up or you get rolled over."
You got kicked out of A&M. How was your schooling paid for? "Grants and loans in my name." Did you have any jobs in college? "2 jobs. Ruby Tuesday on the salad bar and Checkers. I didn't like that job." What was your plan when you got expelled? "I went home to Mobile. Mom told me to get a job. I was expelled 3 semesters. It was my plan to go back to college. Shortly after my wife called and said she was pregnant." Let me back up, we missed something. "I met my wife, Rotesia Horton, at school. I was with my home girl, she's a dyke. Its dark I see a female, she look good. Talk to her get her number. My homegirl told her I wanted to holla at her. I called her once or twice. She played me to the side. I ain't going to sweat nobody. I called twice she didn't play. I met her again, later on. I saw that attractive female again. She ask if I remember her. She said my name's Tesia. She gave me her number, we hooked up and it went from there. We weren't married when she became pregnant."
Get to the point where you and Rotesia married. "I went home in the first week of January. She called and said she was pregnant. She was once a student at A&M. So I said I've got 2 choices. I can either enroll in the reserves to help provide money for my family or I can go back and stay with a friend of my family in Huntsville and save my money for an apartment. Rotesia called me crying. Her dad talking down about her being pregnant. It bothered her, I cared for her. I told mother I was leaving, come to Huntsville get a job. Mom didn't agree with that. She said I was getting myself into something I wasn't prepared for." What was going through your mind? "I know what it was like growing up without my father. I didn't want it to be like that."
At some point you and Tesia married. "September 28, 2004. Our boy was a few months old when we got married. We got married in Mobile." Were you there when your child was born? "Yes sir. He was born at Huntsville Hospital. We named him Jamal Woods. My mother named my child. My grandmother named me, mom named my kid." Once the child was born, you had a family of 3. "Yes sir. We bought a home on Blue Springs Road. We bought the house in the month of July of 2004. Nice size house." You have another child? "2005, July 11. We had another son. His name is Jamen Woods. My boys are 4 and 3 today." From the time your child was born until you were married you have any other jobs? "Early part of my marriage, I worked. I had to pay my cousin $200 for rent so I went to work at Cinram making $6.50 an hour. I got fired. I did some odd jobs, SCI a few other places. Then I found another job that I could support my family. I made between $8-9 an hour. We (Tesia worked there too) brought home almost a $1,000 a week. A friend kept my kids."
"Then, me and my wife separated I got fired for insubordination." What did you do? "We had a previous supervisor, Tommy, he trained me. We made circuit boards for the Navigator. I tested them. I got so good at what I did, they (the other workers) fell behind. So one day, they was putting in faulty parts, they were failing. I was checking the machine, it was up (the hood) a new supervisor came by and asked what I was doing. He said I shouldn' be touching it. He fired me." What happened when you lost that job? "You aquire bills on a certain level. We got these bills coming in. My wife away from home she saying the baby needs Pampers and wipes. I lost my job. I was trying to find a job. The ones I got couldn't pay the bills. It was pointless to waste my time working these jobs. I got my last check I bought a quarter ounce of cocaine. I had to flip it. I had to make money the fastest way I could. I was the only one paying the bills. I kept up the house payment. I gave money to Rotesia."
Rotesia testified you sold drugs. "Yes sir. I sold drugs. I made good money." When is the first time you used illegal drugs? "I experimented when I was 12. My mom caught me and beat the mess out of me. Then I went back to it during college." When did you first start drinking alcohol? "I didn't. When I got in college, it wasn't that big a deal. Marijuana use was excessive."
Testimony with Jamal Woods continues with defense attorney Alan Mann.
'You graduate from high school? "Yes. Williamson High School. I went to college at A & M. I was living on campus in a dorm. I was majoring in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. I wanted to major in criminal justice. They didn't have it. I wanted to be an attorney. I always admired attorneys. I knew they made a lot of money. I like to argue." While you were in high school did your mother teach you about handling money? "After my grandmother died it was a major loss for our family. Mom asked if she died could I take care of myself. From then on she made me learn all that stuff. I paid bills, balanced the checkbook, learned to drive."
Court is now in recess for a quick break.
Jamal Woods testimony continues. He is being questioned by defense attorney Alan Mann.
'How old were you when Charles died? "I was 8. I was sleeping in bed with my mother. It was around 2 in the morning. She woke me up and said your uncle dead, your uncle dead. Somebody stayed with me while they (my mom and auntie) went to view the body. I didn't see my uncle again until the funeral." How did you feel about your uncle? "That was my uncle, my guy, I lost a part of me at that time at that age. We had 2 funerals. One in LA and one in Mobile for my grandmother. He was my only male role model."
Who taught you what it means to be a man. "My uncle. I remember one whipping from him. He was dropping me off at a cousins house. I didn't want to be there. I started crying. He whipped me for crying. He said boys don't cry. He demanded a level of respect. I wanted to be respected like that. He was a big man. That's how I looked at him." Did your mom teach you life lessons? "Yes. She taught me to live for tomorrow not today. She said you got to earn what you get. Always plan fo, r tomorrow. School was a pet peeve. I could get away with breaking something in the house but if I messed, up at school it was my butt. She demanded discipline. She was hard working and determined. She became my role model. She's my idol. I don't put her before God but she is my earthly idol. Nobody compares, not even my wife."
Have you had physcial altercations in your life? "Several." Fights? "Several, . I was in head start, about 2 or 3. Some little dude used to pick on me. It was reported to my mother. They (the school) told me I couldn't fight. When the teacher reported it to my mom and auntie they told me to hit him. So the next day I hit him with a chair. He started crying. When they hit you, hit them back. I wasn't worried about getting in trouble." Did you fight in elementary school? "Several. I got in a fight at Morning Side in Mobile. It was this one dude we got into it all the time. It starte, d he bumped into me coming out of class. I told him to say excuse me. He pushed me. I pushed him back. It created a rivalry. He didn't like me. I didn't like him." High school? "Yea a lot. I got kicked out of summer school for this one (Davidson High School in Mobile). One of my coaches was my teacher he would be out of the classroom a lot. We were throwing balls of paper at people. I told a dude I bet he wouldn't throw a roll of tissue at someone. He dared me to do it so I threw it instead. The dude I hit stood up and said who threw that. My buddy pointed at me on the low. During the test, dude told me he was going to shoot me. He went back and sat down at his desk. I sat down beside him and ask if he wanted to shoot me, kill me. He said one of you n*****s wanted to hit me in the head with a mother f*****g roll of tissue. I hit him in the throat, he fell. I grabbed his head and ran my knee in his face 10 times. I hit him again, over and over. I raised him up, smoked him in the face, he left on a stretcher. I got kicked out of summer school. You don't let anybody talk to you like that." Did you think about the consequences? "No sir. It could have cost me my football career in high school." Let's talk about your time as a football player. "I started playing flag football at the age of 5. My first time on the field I was scared. Later on I got better." Did you start playing in high school? "Yes sir. I played several different positions. As a freshman I played at Davidson. I went through my senior year. I had 2 head football coaches." Did the coaches demand respect? "Yes sir."
"I got kicked out of Davidson and went to Williamson." Why did you get kicked out of Davidson? "My grandfather just died. He lived in LA. My mother left to attend his funeral. I stayed out of school. I checked the mailbox from the school, there was a letter inside. I opened it and it said I had too many unexcused absences. It was days I was supposed to be in court for traffic violations. I went to the school to talk to the principal. He said my mother had to set up an appointment with the school board to get it cleared up. She wasn't going to be back in time. I told him I had the excuses with me. But they wouldn't let me. He said you are expelled the rest of the year. I said what the f*** you mean I'm expelled. He told the coach to restrain me. I told him I didn't do s***. I told the coach to not put his hands on me. I started swinging. I hit all the people. I got arrested for disordly conduct, they dropped the assault charge, and I got kicked out of school." Did it dawn on you that you would get kicked out? "No. I just wanted to explain my situation. I wanted to graduate." You were allowed to continue in public school. "Yes. I went to Williamson High School and enrolled. I talked to the principal myself and told him the situation. I graduated."
Jamal Woods is now on the stand.
'I'm the defendant in this case. I'm 24 years old. I just had a birthday, February 1st. I was born in 1985. Roy Woods is my father. Susan Davis is my mother. Don't know where my dad is. We had an episode when I was 12 or 13, last time I really saw him was probably when I was 2. The only real memory is when my dad came by the house and said he wasn't coming by again. I didn't understand why. I was 2 or 3 years old." Let's clarify your terminiolody. What does righteously mean? "For real, honestly." You made the decision to get in that chair and testify. "Yes sir." You took an oath to tell the truth. "I will tell the truth, only the truth."
After you saw your father, you said you saw him again. "We came back out to LA I was supposed to stay the whole summer. My mother wanted me to establish a relationship with my father. He met us over at a friends house. I went to his apartment, met his girlfriend. He said he was going to introduce me to the family I didn't know. I went over to my auntie's house and I was listening to a CD. It was Tupac CD. My cousin came in the room and took the CD out and put in a different CD. I told him I was listenting to that to put the CD back in. He ejected it again. I told him that I asked his mom if I could listen she said yes. He reached for the CD player again. This time, I smoked him (hit him in the face). My dad separated us. He gave my cousin a whipping. He was going to whip me. I told him if he put his hands on me we would have problems. He was paralyzed on his side from a drive by shoo, ting, I pushed him (dad) over the chair, left and called my auntie to come and get me. I was 12 or 13." What made you that mad? "I ask his mother if I could listen to the CD, she said yes. It was in my control and I got permission. For him to take it out like he run something, you just don't do that." When you reacted the way you did, what were you thinking? "I wasn't thinking. I hit him it was a natural reaction."
Your aunt just testified, that's the one you stayed with? "Yes." (talks about going to schools from headstart on up to Alabama A&M) Were you one of the youngest in your class? "Yes sir, always." You heard your aunt and godmother testify in this trial. You heard both of them testify about you growing up in LA. Do you have clear memories of that. "Yes I do. The earliest memory I have is waking up one morning and telling my mom I was bigger (felt like I had grown during the night)." What about other memories? "My family was always around. She (mom) was trying to provide a better life for me, I spent time with my other family." Tell the court did you become aware of gangs and how early in life? "As early as I can remember I was fascinated by gangs. They were the only male figures I knew. I looked up to my uncle. The type enviornment he was around was gang members. I seen good things. I seen bad things. Its united. Its an organiztion. They become lawless. I be on 69th street eating a burrito you see 2 people talking then it breaks out into an argument and 6 other guys get involved. You'd see hand-to-hand transactions. Mom tried to keep the gangs as far away from me as possible." That work? "When she was around but she was in school. Life was different when she wasn't around. When she was around I was in the house all the time, did my homework, be in bed at a certain time. She had strict rules. But when she wasn't around I was with my auntie but I wasn't her child. She wanted to live her life and not be tied down. So I was exposed to her life. We went to a party, to her boyfriend house, we ride the bus all over LA." Did you live in more than one house in LA? "There were 2. They were in South Central." Were you born in LA? "Yes sir. I was 8 or 9 when we left."
You heard the last 2 witnesses. Did you see any gang violence? "Yes sir. I seen when Marvin got shot (my auntie's boyfriend) I seen a couple fights on 69th street. Some on our street. Be times when I'd ride my bike down the street hear popping (shooting)and might see a drive by. Its different when you live right there. Its part of life. I saw people use guns. You see people getting shot at but don't know if they got hit or hurt." Give us an example of what you saw. "I was sitting on the steps at an apartment on 69th street, my uncle was there. Two dudes started arguing. You got raised voices next thing you know its 6 dudes beating up on him. I think the situation with Marvin was gang related." Talk about the different gangs in LA. "I was most familiar with Cryps. When you grow up out there your family will be associated with one side or another. It was Bloods and Cryps."
You spend any time with Uncle Charles. "Yea if my auntie wasn't around my uncle took care of me. Everybody took care of me." Who was the most influential male in your life? "Uncle Charles. My other uncle was in prison. No other man like him. He was the only male figure I seen in the home. He was a member of Cryp." What is gang business? "Not a certain type business, its an organization, its family. Some might hussle, sell drugs, steal, break in. You got to have a way to get it." Anybody have regular jobs? "Terrell worked and always had a job. That's my cousin, my godmother's ex-husband." Did most of the gang members you know participate in illegal activities? "Yes sir. When I was younger I didn't know what a hand-to-hand was (exchange money and drugs at the same time). I saw that several times. Charles sold drugs. He made good money. He kept his stash in mother's garage. Bank rolls, $100's $50's. I, was with him. He never warned me to keep quiet." Ever see him get into a verbal argument. "Yes. It didn't last long. A lot of people feared my uncle. He got pull. Lot of young people looked up to him. He was older, solid muscle. He had a short temper. That was my uncle, my guy."
First witness called to the stand for the defense this morning is Wanda Jackson.
"I am related to Jamal Woods. I am his mother's sister, his aunt. I live in Los Angeles, California. I lived close to Jamal when he was born. We lived at San Pedro and 87th, its the east side." How long had Jamal and his mother lived there before they moved? "9 or 10 years." Did you have a close relationship with Jamal? "He called me nanny and I called him Poo Poo. I took care of him while his mother went to school. He would go to work with me. I was a daycare teacher. He was in my class. His mom went to South West College, she majored in psychology. She finished her degree and graduated." You've told the address where you lived. Is that an area affected by the street gang culture? "Yes. I lived with Jamal and his mother for a time. I had been living with my sister since I was 1, 2 years old." You know CHarles Davis? "He's my brother. From time to time he lived with us. My brother was affiliated with the street gang culture. Charles was "Too Cool" He had a lot of power he was from the 6-9 East Coast Gang. He had a lot of authorit, y. They would call him "OG" (Original Gangster). He pretty much had a lot of say so. They would come to him. He was the leader." Mr. Davis in the home? "Never gone he was always in and out." Ever in prison? "He went to jail but never did a long time. Ye, s he had been in jail." While you were providing care for Jamal what sort of acitivites the 2 of you would engage in. (I object to this point. Mr. Morgan is leading terribly. I object to the leading question.) "Me and Jamal, me being a preschool teacher him in my class, there was no gang culture. Me and Jamal would hang together. If it was Friday, we went to a party. He went everywhere I sent. I hung with him. That's where he grew up. That's all I knew. I got some pictures where I took him to parties. He did everything I did. We went to picnics, car shows, beach parties. I was 18, 19 years old that's all I knew. He had to go with me." You made reference to "it." I was talking about gang members. I had a boyfriend, Tyrone, who is in jail right now. He hung with and I was in a gang. He was right there with me. I was the babysitter. He had to do what I did. I let him stay where I did. He probably picked up some bad habits." You still member of a gang? "No I'm older now. I was when Jamal was younger." Was Jamal a member of the gang? "Yes. He started young. Then when you get older age, some people don't want to change their life. My brother didn't change his." Any event that might have contributed to Jamal and his mother moving from LA? "A lot was happening. My brother got killed by some gang members. A few minutes after he was killed, we all went there, and in that period of time my brother was going through something. In those last 3-6 months he spent m, ore time knowing what was going on in the street, with the gang members stuff like that." Did you move out of the home before the death of Mr. Davis? "Yes. It was like 4-5 months. I moved out. I was 25 having a baby. It was my first baby I wanted to move out on my own. Charles continued to live in the home." You provided a lot of care for Jamal while his mom was in school. "When I moved out my brother took care of Jamal. Susan and Jamal moved out of LA because somebody killed my brother. We knew it was somebody close. Things started to get wild. Me and my sister are 2 different people. She's one way, I'm the other. It was always flooded with people. She said I got to get out of here." Did she try to keep gang influence out of her home? "She did everything, from the punishment. I tried to follow her lead be like her, I got degrees and stuff but didn't actually stay in school. There was a couple of times she came here on vacation. I had partie, s with gang members in her house. She tried everything to stop it. Its like pressure you don't have any kind of pull. IF you don't be friends with the gangs, it causes problems for you. You come outside your car is gone." Are you telling the jury to escape the gang culture? "Yes she wanted to raise Jamal in a different way. She sent him to California to spend the summer with me. I sent him back in 2 weeks. If it wasn't dangerous he would still be in LA. When he was out there, he went to the store with one of my kids daddys, he was talking about a high speed chase he was laughing. To him, it was fun. I told him I'm not calling your mom to tell her something had happened. I sent him back in 2 weeks." Did Jamal observe various gang activities? "No."
Cross examine by Don Rizzardi. 'What was the name of the gang? "69 East Coast. 69 for the streets its on. East Coast for the side. I was a member for maybe 12-15. You have to fight a whole bunch of girls to get in. You can't win. You can't fall down and give up." How did you get out. "You don't really get out, you move on with your life." Your still in? "If you want to call it, nothing i had to do to get out. If you want to say that. " How did Jamal get there (in a gang). "I said the idea of Jamal, the way he is." Let's talk about gang activities, parties, beach parties car show. That sounds like a tea party. "When its the 6th day of the 9th month, they have a picnic. They don't just shoot and do drive bys. I never did a drive by so I don't know." Does it have certain levels or classes? "What you mean?" If you are in a gang its one for all, all for one. "A gang is somebody that can protect you. Its like your other family." From what? "Something you can't handle. You might want somebody else to handle it." Gangs provoke lawlessness? "Oh yea of course they break the law." What legal things do gangs do? "Nothing. Today, its a different kind of gang. Some go to school now. Its not like when I grew up." DO they brainwash you? "Oh yea. The only way they do that is they think they love you when they don't. The gang is your other family. That's what a gang is. You go there for the fun but the fun becomes a problem." The 3 years you were active in the gang did you loose self control? "Yes I still do that today. I don't think about the consequences until after its done. I may have a pen I'm writing with and I know I didn't pay for it. I'm a grown woman now. You can exercise self control but it depends on the situation." Am I disrespecting you now? "By waving at me, no. IF you keep doing it I'm going to think something is wrong with you. If I speak to you and you are still standing there you got a problem. If somebody speak to me is that disrespectful no. If you speak and keep going that's a different story. If you keep waving and I don't know you, what's wrong with you? That's crazy." You said your sister did everything she could to get Jamal out? "yea. She threw Charles out a few times." What kind of gang activities at the day care? "None. That's where I worked. Professional people there. Why would gang activity be where preschoolers are at. Now, some stuff can happen but this is little kids we talking about." Your boyfriend, Tyrone known as OG, do you believe anybody by the initials is an Original Gangster. Is it possible they go by OG and it doesn't stand for Original Gangster "No. You trying to twist me. Thats what it means to anybody who knows gangs." (objection by defense based on badgering the witness). Maam OG can have various meanings? "No where I come from it means Original Gangster."
Let me make a quick correction/addition to yesterday's blog. The correct name and spelling of Jamal Woods godmother is Guadelupe Valesco.
Jamal Woods just took at seat at , the defense table this morning. He is dressed in a white vest, black shirt and tie. His mother, Susan Davis and his wife Rotesia Woods are also present in the courtroom.
February 9, 2009
Court is dismissed for the day. Further testimony from the defense will begin at 9 am Tuesday morning.
Next on the stand, Jamal's godmother Guadelupe Valesco. "I've known Jamal Woods since birth. I am his godmother. I lived in California at one time. Jamal lived in South Central Los Angeles. He was like 7, , or 8 when the family moved away." In that period of time, born to where he moved, did you have contact? "Yes." Frequency and nature? "I used to take care of him when he would get out of school, the weekends. He was like my child." Was there any street gang influence? "Yes. It wasn't good. You had the Crips and 69 Stree, t Crips. You couldn't wear certain color on one side of the city. It wasn't good. They were on every corner hanging out." Were you married? "I was. I was married to Terrell Nealon. He was a member of the Crips street gang." You were selected to be Jamal's godmother. "We went through a church ceremony. Mr. Nealon was not there. Someone else is his godfather (didn't catch that name either)." In that period of time, you took care of him did Jamal have contact with Mr. Nealon? "Yes." And his godfather? "Yes." Tell the jury the nature of the communication between Jamal and a street gang function. "He lived in the neighborhood. He would stay with me, you go outside they were there. You have to be careful when you are living out there. In the house, there's drive by shootings. Take care of the kids. Lot of the drug selling goes on today. He lived in the neighborhood where it was at. He would come from school, play outside. He couldn't avoid it." Did you ever observe situations where Jamal was exposed to gang violence. "Not that I remember. Just living in it you hear the gunshots, people selling drugs." Let's talk about the gang culture. "Yes. They have to respect you. If they didn't you got to do what you got to do. Somebody would come up to him, from a gang, he would act like an adult gang member. They think gang members are roll models. Gang members want respect. They want that whatever they do be respected. If they tell you not to do it and you don't, you have consequences. They will come and get you." Ever see a situation where a particular gang member was shown disrespect and he didn't take care of it. "Yes they will beat you up, take whatever is in your possession that is worth something." Did you know Charles Davis? "Jamal's uncle. He was a member of the 69th Street Crypts." Did you ever see Charles with Jamal? "Yes. He is Jamal's uncle, mother's brother. Was Charles always around? "No." He did time in prison? "Yes." During the time he wasn't in prison was Jamal around him? "He would come over he wanted to see his uncle, hang out with him, he would cry, pitch a fit, if he couldn't." Jamal was 7 or 8 when the family relocated. Anything happen before then? "They shot and killed his uncle (gang relted)." You recognize this? "Charles Davis obituary. The photograph is of Charles. I attended the funeral. Don't remember if Jamal was there." Can you see if the content of that document has been altered? Does it accuratly depict the photo and obit? "Yes it does." It talks about a lot of people that have been left behind. Read until the end. "The one devoted Jamal Woods, nephew, host of cousins, family and his East Coast 69 Gang Family." How long before after Jamal's uncle died did the family move? "Less than a month." How did Charles die? "I think it was a set up. He was shot up execution style. It was really bad." Ever see Jamal out with Charles at social events? "Yes they would go to the store, get something to eat, pick up my husband, hang out." Did you enjoy family times with other gang members? "We also had social events, sometimes hang out. He was always there." Do you know why Susan (Jamal's mother) moved out of LA? "Yes she didn't want him to grow up in that neighborhood because of what happened to her brother. She didn't want that to happen to her son."
Cross examine by prosecutors? 'You been a member of a gang? "No. My husband got out of a gang when we got married. I don't know when he started. We were married like 10 years." Why did he leave? "Everybody started going their seperate ways in the gang. If you want out of a gang you got to fight your way out. They will kill you one. Lot of t, hem sold drugs." Did he ever take Jamal along with the gang? "Not that I remember." What else does a gang do? "Hang out, drink, do drugs some."
The state rested its case about an hour ago. Its time now for the defense to put on its witnesses.
The first witness called to testify for the defense is Dr. Adell Shaker. You may remember his testimony for the prosecution last week. Dr. Shaker is an expert witness.
'Let me ask you some questions please Dr. Shaker. We had a chance to communicate over the weekend. "Yes sir." Hospital records of Thurston Turner have been admitted into evidence as state's exhibit 206. This shows the treatment of Mr. Turner. On Saturday did you receive some copies of documents that appeared to be from Huntsville Hospital concerning treatment of Mr. Turner? "Yes sir. I looked into them." You did the autopsy on both bodies. "Yes." Today we are talking about Mr. Turner's autopsy. You are a pathologist. Is your concentration different than that of a treating physician. "I open to see like a surgeon. Regular doctors don't open and see." As a result of the examination of Mr. Turner you submitted a report of autopsy. "Yes this is the report for the late Mr. Turner. It was submitted in late August 2007. I had also looked at his other medical records. I have seen the medical records prior to that date. When we faxed to you copies over the weekend had you seen the previously? "Yes sir." We offer defendants exhibit #14 into evidence. You've testified to several matters on the front of that report, manner and cause of death. "Yes." Has your conclusion on either changed? "No way. I am sticking to my analysis." You studied the hospital records on Mr. Turner. "Yes." You've given testimony to the injuries by Mr. Turner. They were severe right? "Yes." As a part of those injuries he suffered damage to his main artery. "There was a laceration to the artery." Is it fair to say Mr. Turner is losing blood from the artery? "Exactly." There has been testimony that Mr. Turner lost an awful lot of blood on the scene. He was given fluids, CPR. Do your records show that? "Yes." Could you characterize the loss of blood from his injuries? "He lost an ample amount of blood. That is why he got fluids at that time." I've seen references to embolization. "Introducing various substances into the circulation of blood vessel with the aim of cutting the blood supply to a certain area of the body."
The State of Alabama has rested its case. Defense attorneys will call their first witness after a 20 minute break.
The State of Alabama told the judge they rest their case. Larry Morgan objected to the state's motion to rest. The jury has been sent out of the courtroom --again! It appears the objection has to do with cross examination. The defense is making their case to the judge on the grounds of the judge granting several motions.
Don Rizzardi...'All the evidence came from the witness stand. Tank Beavers and Thurston Turner were both shot in the head. We ask that you deny the defense's motion to continue."
The judge did deny the request to continue. Court is now taking a short break.
We continue to wait while the jury watches the video tape inside TGI Friday's the night of the shooting. There are a number of people present inside the courtroom. Friends and family of the victims as well as members of Jamal's family.
Woods is sitting in court behind the jury with his attorneys and security guards. He is watching the video along with the courtroom.
Prosecutors are about to play a video for the jury. Jamal Woods is seated in the courtroom behind the panel, with his attorney and extra security, so he can view the tape.
The video is surveillance footage inside TGI Friday's the night of the shooting. You can see customers and employees milling around the front lobby for several minutes. Entering the restaurant at different times is Tank Beavers, Tory Rogers, Tim Reliford, Thurston Turner, Tasha and Miranda Lucas. You also see Jamal Woods, Rotesia Woods, Chauncey Davis and Brandon Rucker enter. The video then goes to a large group of customers, some church goers coming in for dinner after Sunday night services. Then you see that same group run out of the front door. Seconds later, you see Jamal Woods running out of the door behind them. The next frame shows where Woods and his party was sitting at their table before the shooting happened (to show relivence of location inside restaurant). Then the camera flips over to the bar where you see one of the victims fall off the bar stool. You do not see video of the victims at the bar getting shot or of Jamal Woods pulling the trigger. That part of the crime scene is out of range of the restaurants camera.
Court is back in session. Before we went to break the prosecution wanted to introduce evidence of letters written by Jamal Woods in jail. A Madison County Assitant Jail Administrator, Lt. Bill Hancock, collected the letters. Defense Attorney Larry Morgan objected to the handling of the letters. Morgan aruges the handling of the letters was taken from the assistant jail administrator and delivered to a handwritting expert by Assistant DA Shauna Barnett. Prosecutors argue this would make Barnett part of the "chain of custody" for that evidence and because of that she could be called as a witness to testify. The defense then made a motion for a mistrial but it was denied.
'Don Rizzardi...'Her testimony could be garnered. Chain of custody doesn't speak to the issue at hand, whether Jamal Woods is guilty of capita murder and 2 counts of attempted murder."
Larry Morgan....'2 fine men have died, 2 others injured. Everything they offer goes to impose the death penaly against my client. Lawyers should no, t act as an advocate in trial according to law. We become aware of it at that time. We are going to call this prosecutor as a witness. The jury is going to pick up on everything in this case. The jury is not dumb. We have the same objection to mistrial because the defendants exhibit was provided to us this morning. She said it was her own production. That's not a mere informality. The rules are substantial. If she goes ahead with it, we may all have to be called. I am not going to be inviolation. I will remove myself from this case. The state has put me in that position. If they proceed with those letters I will withdraw.'
Don Rizzardi...."That case of chain of custody, such as money such as drugs. We are talking about letters which speak for themselves. These were handwritten letters we expect the evidence to show came straight from the defendant. We submit the rules and case law is clear."
The jury is now seated.
Court is in recess until 1:00. The judge is taking up objections by the defense and the prosecution. Defense attorneys do not want some 2 dozen letters written by their client, Jamal Woods, and his girlf, riend Tara Blackmon entered into evidence. The letters were sent from the Madison County Jail. They say if the letters are allowed Assistant D, A Shauna Barnett would have to take the stand. They argue that could taint a jury pool at which point the case could end in a mistrial. Judge Laura Hamilton says she is going to err on the side of caution and not allow the letters for now. She is also taking into consideration prosecutors argument to enter them into evidence.
Court is recessed until 1:00 to allow the judge time to consider.
One juror is absent from testimony today. She is home sick with a fever.
State calls its first witness of the morning, Lt. Bill Hancock, Assistant Jail Administrator with the Madison County Jail. "I have worked there 11 years. I'm a retired Marine, 30 years." You know Jamal Woods? "Jamal is an inmate in the Madison County Jail." This is state's exhibit 180-189. Take a look at those. What are they? "Inmate request forms and grieveance forms. They are used for inmates to complain about issues with the jail. The inmate who receives the form, the officer and eventually it comes to me. This form was filled out by Jamal. It was a complaint. He signed the form." What did you do with the forms? "This document was handed directly to me, the others go through, the administrative chain." What did you do with those documents? "Initial at the bottom. Turned them over to your office (Given to Shauna Barnett)."
Cross examine by Larry Morgan. 'When you were in the Marines you retired Command Sgt. Major? "Yes sir. Its the highest rank." Is it part of your duty to obtain these records and secure them. "Yes." I showed you defendants exhibit #12. Take a look at it and tell the jury what it is. "The MC incident report is completed by an officer for any event that occurs in the jail, inmate related or not." Those documents relate to one particular incident. "There's 2 uses of force. One that took place on 11/18/07 at 22:00. A second that took place 11/18/07 at 17:30." These reports talk about a lot of things beween Jamal and detention officers. He gave a reason for his behavior. "He was upset because his mother came to visit and she wasn't allowed. This second one was when Derick Strickland was disrespectful to his mother." What was the act of disrespect? "I don't recall." Jamal was disciplined? "Yes." He was charged with felony assault? "I don't recall."
After some diligent searching, I was able to locate partial testimony from Rotesia Woods that had been deleted last week. Woods is the wife of Jamal Woods, who is on trial for capital murder. Rotesia was questioned by prosecutor Shauna Barnett.
"I've been married to Jamal since 2004. We have 2 boys, Jamal age 3 and Jamen age 4. Me, Jamal, his buddies Chauncey Davis and Brandon Rucker went to eat dinner at TGi Fridays that night (of the shooting). We sat down at the table. Tory (Rogers) came in the door and waved. Later Tank (Beavers) threw up his hand. Jamal asked me if I knew them, why they kept speaking to me. He said it must be something they way they keep waving at you. I told him it ain't like that. I knew Tory and Tank from school. Jamal looked like he was upset, mad. He got up from the table and went outside. I told Brandon to check on him. Brandon came back inside the restaurant but Jamal didn't. Jamal came back in about 10 minutes later. He went to the bar. Next thing I know I heard gunshots." What was your reaction? "I was scared. I was surprised. Jamal is a jealous person." Do you know a woman by the name of Tara Blackmon? "Yes she is a femal friend of Jamals." What is her nickname? "Red." Is she Jamal's girlfriend? "She was Jamal's mistress but I never met her." What about after the shooting. What happened then? "I ran out of the restaurant with Brandon and Chauncey. We made it to the Hampton Inn." When the police questioned you, what did you do? "I liked to the police the first time but then I changed my statement to tell the truth. I was scared of going to jail. What was your husbands occupation? "Mmmmm....he was a drug dealer."
February 6, 2009
A quick thank you to those of you reading my blog. I apologize that Rotesia Woods testimony is no longer posted. Apparently technical issues somehow deleted what I had written. And of course, I didn't save a backup copy. I will dig through my notes and try to repost snipts.
The jury has gone home for the day. Testimony resumes at 10:00 Monday morning.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!