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Defense rests in Dailey trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Emotions overtook Jay Dailey's mother as jurors were led from the courtroom Thursday following closing arguments in her son's trial.

"I want my boy!" the white-haired, diminutive woman belted in the gallery, as family led her outside. "I want my boy to go home -- that's my baby."

District Attorney Danny Porter, a minute prior, had done his best to ensure Dailey's release won't happen for many years.

In closing arguments, Porter shared glimpses into his personal life to illustrate technical constructs of the case, at one point likening the state's burden of proof to Herschel Walker hoofing a football at the University of Georgia, Porter's alma mater.

Porter zeroed in on defense claims that Dailey, a former Duluth police officer fired after his arrest, was too drunk to recall his actions on Feb. 1, 2008. Those actions, Porter argued, were Dailey's attempt to resolve the avalanche of trouble he'd started by drinking, driving and wrecking his personal Crown Victoria.

"It's a damn shame that all these people had to pay because (Dailey) had to drink," Porter told jurors in only the second case he's prosecuted since 2006.

During closings, Porter and defense attorney Jeff Sliz volleyed compliments to each other after continually -- and almost comically -- butting heads in the three-day trail. Of Sliz, Porter said, "He can start with an assumption (Dailey's intoxication) and build a universe around it."

Sliz called his opponent skilled and articulate enough to be a preacher, before sarcastically bowing to him.

Dailey's defense rested about 11:30 a.m. in Gwinnett Superior Court without presenting evidence or witnesses. Dailey reserves the right to testify but elected not to.

Charged with deciding Dailey's guilt or innocence on 11 counts is a jury diverse in age, gender and ethnicity.

Sliz said his lack of evidence was just, being that his client himself had only murky recollections of the events. He actually urged jurors to convict Dailey of shooting Fulton County police Cpl. Paul Phillips and battering Leresa Graham, the driver Dailey allegedly flagged down as the fracas unfolded.

But, in Sliz's estimation, evidence was flimsy supporting the state's claims that Dailey pointed a gun and threatened to kill Graham and two other motorists passing by.

Both sides concede that when Graham tried to call 911, Dailey doused her in pepper spray. That, Sliz argued, blinded her enough that she couldn't have seen a gun if Dailey -- who witnesses say was carrying three weapons -- had drawn one.

As Sliz detailed his theories on charges related to Graham, she too was led weeping out of the courtroom.

His attorney says Dailey had long battled depression and alcoholism and went berserk after downing 3/4 pint of vodka.

Prosecutors say 21 shots were exchanged -- 17 by Dailey, who was shot in the hand.

Dailey faces more than 100 years if convicted and given a max sentence on all counts. They include aggravated assault against a peace officer, terroristic threats and battery.

Phillips, 39, stopped to help after another motorist flagged him down on Level Creek Road in Sugar Hill, about a mile from North Gwinnett High School. Phillips is on full disability retirement from the Fulton County force.

The two officers lived down the road from each other but had never met.

Deliberations are expected to resume today.