LAWRENCEVILLE - Defense attorneys for Quincy Jackson argued Tuesday that a popular premise of modern-day prosecution is flawed: It's wrong, they said, to convict a man based on evidence that his cell phone was at the scene of a crime.
"There should be evidence that puts the phone in the man's hands," attorney David Fife said in closing arguments.
Jurors are tasked with deciding whether to side with Fife, or with prosecutors who say Jackson - and, by extension, his phone - was the conduit for a wave of robberies that culminated in murder.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Hamil released jurors to deliberate after 5 p.m., capping more than a week of testimony in Jackson's murder trial. The Riverdale man is accused of participating in a robbing crew that terrorized two Gwinnett families in three robberies leading up to the suffocation death of Tedla Lemma, 51, in March 2008.
Though no physical evidence ties Jackson to the scenes, Assistant District Attorney Christa Kirk said witness testimony, cell phone records and wire-tapped phone conversations between Jackson and a key co-defendant are enough to implicate him.
"In this case, by planning it, getting the muscle and getting in that house, Quincy Jackson is just as responsible as anybody else," Kirk told the jury.
The state's star witness, Lorna Araya, an acquaintance of Jackson's from college, testified this week she masterminded the hits, but only after Jackson had asked her to. Prosecutors have dropped the possibility of a life sentence in exchange for Araya's cooperation.
Jackson waived his right to testify earlier Tuesday.
Fife argued that prosecutors could have crafted a plea bargain with Araya prior the trial, but were too "ashamed" that jurors might learn of her potentially forgiving sentence. Her sentence, Fife said, will be contingent on her "performance" in court.
Fife contends that Araya has repeatedly lied to investigators and prosecutors in an attempt to cover for her boyfriend, Gerald Rhines, who Fife said spearheaded one robbery.
"We know that she's lied many times to protect herself," Fife said. "Her personal credibility is very low."
Kirk pointed out that Lemma's wallet and other items were found at Jackson's Riverdale home. That home, however, is shared by Marshae Brooks, who Fife said admitted to robbing Lemma and could have possessed the wallet.
Jackson, who worked at home as a Web page designer prior to his arrest, pleaded not guilty to the charges in his 17-count indictment and has never admitted to being involved, Fife said. He faces life in prison.
Jury deliberations are expected to resume this morning.