Lovings murder trial in hands of jurors
by Scott Wiltsee
April 19, 2013 12:00 AM | 2411 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jerry Wayne Lovings
Jerry Wayne Lovings
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After two days of viewing photos of a bloody crime scene and hearing emotional testimony, the jurors in the murder trial of Jerry Wayne Lovings are left with one final task: to determine the fate of the man who gunned down Jonathan Brooks at a Mableton strip mall in 2011.

On the trial’s fourth day, Cobb Assistant District Attorney Jesse Evans continued to show evidence portraying Lovings as a remorseless killer who repeatedly shot 22-year-old Brooks with a .22-caliber revolver.

“These were some mighty powerful images you saw here,” Evans told the jury. “And that man created them. There was nothing noble and honorable about what he did. Shame on him.”

Cobb Superior Court Judge Gregory Poole will charge the jury today with deciding on each five counts against Lovings: malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

The case stemmed from an incident May 18, 2011, when an argument over money at a computer repair shop on Veterans Memorial Highway escalated to homicide. Lovings pulled a gun from his backpack and shot Brooks.

When the victim attempted to escape through the back of a neighboring store, he ended up trapped, and Lovings chased him down and fired multiple times. Six bullets struck Brooks, with three shots — one in the chest, one in the back and one in the neck — potentially delivering the fatal blow.

Then as Brooks lay dying in the parking lot, Lovings called 911 and waited for police to arrive.



Establishing malice



Evans presented testimony from two police officers who said Lovings was unfazed after the shooting by the possibility that he had killed Brooks.

Investigator Jim Hopkins, the Cobb Police Department’s lead detective on the case, said Lovings told him that an interview about the shooting was unnecessary.

Hopkins told the jury, “He said, ‘There’s no point in that. I shot him. He knows why I did it. I know why I did it.’”

During his statement, Hopkins said, Lovings told him he hoped Brooks was dead.

Meanwhile, Marietta attorney Jill Stahlman presented one piece of evidence and called one witness, giving the jury only her opening and closing arguments to imply that Lovings was a poor, homeless victim of scams who reached his breaking point and shot Brooks.

“There was serious provocation to make Lovings snap,” Stahlman said.

Stahlman made an overture to the jury to have the charges against Lovings reduced, noting that they could choose to find him guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than malice murder.



Fraud claims

The defense submitted a single piece of evidence to the jury – a 23-page summary of Lovings’ bank account from the year prior to the killing. On it were deposits and withdrawals for $7,000 and $3,500 each, which she said were part of an alleged check fraud scheme orchestrated by Brooks that had left Lovings’ account overdrawn.

“This is circumstantial evidence that check cashing fraud was taking place,” Stahlman said.

The defense also maintained in arguments that Brooks had promised Lovings he would provide a referral to do the homeless man’s taxes, but then used the information to file a fraudulent return and buy a car with the proceeds.

Those two factors were key, Stahlman said, in explaining why Lovings pulled the trigger on that May afternoon.

“The state wants you to focus on the tragedy here,” Stahlman told the jury about the prosecution’s case. “We’re not standing here saying this didn’t happen. The state is trying to hide the ball. The focus is on whether there was sufficient provocation – he snapped.”

As for why Lovings shot Brooks multiple times, Stahlman attributed it to a “sudden, irresistible passion.”

“The passion is overwhelming,” she said of the incident. “He starts shooting. Once the passion formed in him, it didn’t end after one shot.”

The defender also tried to erode the credibility of several prosecution witnesses by arguing that they were complicit in fraudulent activity.

Stahlman put emphasis on the fact that Lovings himself called 911 and waited for the police.

“The state wants you to focus on after-the-fact statements to police,” Stahlman argued. “Weigh that with the call to 911. He’s not running. That’s not what he did. He sat down and waited for police to come.”

In his closing argument, an emotionally charged Evans rebutted the defense request for finding Lovings guilty on a lesser charge, saying the prosecution was looking for “all or nothing.”

Evans told the jury that any potential motive in the case should not overshadow the end result.

“No matter what he was ticked off about, he was not justified to take that young man’s life,” Evans said. “Voluntary manslaughter? This was a flat-out execution.”
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