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Defendant testifies as Nick Jackson murder case winds down

Anthony Lumpkin

Anthony Lumpkin

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Eddie Green

LAWRENCEVILLE — Anthony Lumpkin was ambushed, he testified Thursday.

He didn’t know there was a robbery going down when he jumped in the car in Atlanta and he didn’t ask what was going on during the long drive to Gwinnett. He didn’t know guns were involved until he kicked in the door at 310 Autry St. and he fled after finding out.

Despite the state’s evidence against him — and the testimony of two co-defendants — he didn’t enter the basement. He did not pull the trigger on the gun that fired the bullet that killed 15-year-old Nick Jackson II.

“I ain’t never had no gun,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin’s testimony on his own behalf was the final act of his defense’s case, setting the stage for Friday morning closing arguments in the murder trial against him and co-defendant Eddie Green. During about an hour on the stand, the 43-year-old told a new version of the events of Feb. 2, 2012, one different from those he had shared during interviews and taped jailhouse phone calls.

To hear Lumpkin tell it, he was at home with his long-time girlfriend and young daughters that morning, watching TV and otherwise relaxing when “cousin” Darrez Chandler showed up. After a few local stops and marijuana-filled blunts, Chandler “asked me to come ride with him.”

They picked up eventual co-defendant Jason Dozier — given two life sentences in the case last month — and, unbeknownst to Lumpkin, headed for Gwinnett.

“What did they tell you (about the destination)?” Assistant District Attorney Mike Morrison asked.

“They didn’t say nothing,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin said he, Dozier and Lumpkin met a silver van in front of a “red or yellow building” in Norcross, and that was the first time he had heard anything about a burglary. He wouldn’t have gone if he had known, he testified.

“I spend all of my time with my kids and my girl and taking care of my mom,” Lumpkin said.

He said he was told only vague details about “a lot of money” inside the house, believed to be targeted for the proceeds from Nick Jackson I’s lucrative, cartel-connected drug trafficking business.

After “a lot of contemplating,” Lumpkin said, he walked down the driveway to the Jacksons’ basement door; when nobody answered the doorbell, rung by Dozier, he kicked the door in.

But then he saw “a figure” — believed to be young Nick Jackson II — walking toward the door, and Dozier pull a handgun, and two more members of the robbing crew come charging down the driveway.

“That’s what made me run,” Lumpkin said. “Chandler told me nobody was supposed to be home.”

Despite overwhelming prosecution evidence tying him to the subsequent shooting, including the gun believed to have fired the bullet that pierced Jackson II’s heart, Lumpkin said he never went inside. He said the 18-minute call before and during the home invasion was him yelling at Chandler for setting him up — not, as Chandler previously testified, a result of his fear of being left behind by the crew’s getaway driver.

Lumpkin denied ever seeing or using a ski mask, which had his DNA on it, and said versions told in previous interviews and phone calls were lies. He presented an alternate meaning for the text he sent a girlfriend about 90 minutes prior to the robbery: “Hey babe trying to pull one.”

“I’m talking about a blunt, man,” he said.

Lumpkin and Green are both facing a single count of malice murder and three more of felony murder, as well as armed robbery, aggravated assault and burglary charges. They are just two of the seven defendants in the case.

Chandler and Timothy Johnson, both believed to be planners and drivers, agreed to testify in exchange for lightened sentences and the dropping of murder charges. Dozier, believed to have fired shots during the home invasion, was tried last month and given two life sentences plus 45 years.

Reco West and Michael Davis are yet to go to trial.

Lumpkin stood strong under Morrison’s cross examination Thursday, even as the family of Jackson II wept at the evocation of the teen’s final moments.

Morrison: “Was he crying for his mother when he was holding the door?”

Lumpkin: “I don’t know.”

Morrison: “Was he screaming out for his father?”

Lumpkin: “I don’t know.”

Morrison: “What were his last words, sir?”

Lumpkin: “I don’t know.”