Jury deliberation will begin Monday in Chattanooga's first Federal Court death penalty case after attorneys for Rejon Taylor said they plan to put on no proof.
The government closed out its case on Friday morning with Hamilton County Medical Examiner Dr. Frank King testifying that Atlanta restaurant operator Guy Luck suffered four gunshot wounds when he was murdered at Collegedale on Aug. 6, 2003.
Attorney Leslie Corey said Taylor should not be convicted of murder because the only witness who was also in the van at the time of the killing said it was not a carjacking or robbery. Taylor, who was 19 at the time, is charged with carjacking, kidnapping, murder in conjunction with carjacking and murder in conjunction with kidnapping.
Sir Jack Matthews shocked prosecutors on Thursday by completely reversing his earlier statements and saying he, Taylor and Joey Marshall had been on a trip with the restaurant operator to deliver a package of marijuana to a house in Collegedale.
Prosecutor Steve Neff on Friday said that testimony by the government witness was "inherently ridiculous."
If the jury finds Taylor guilty of murder, the panel would return on Wednesday, Sept. 17, to begin a penalty phase of the trial.
The panel would decide whether he received the death penalty or life in prison.
Matthews and Marshall earlier entered guilty pleas to all charges and are facing life terms.
Dr. King said Mr. Luck was shot once in the mouth and also had gunshot wounds to the upper back, left shoulder and lower arm. He died five and a half hours later at Erlanger Hospital.
Prosecutors said three of the shots, including the most serious one to the mouth, came from the .38-caliber handgun wielded by Taylor, who was driving the victim's van.
They said the other shot came from a 9-mm. handgun that was fired by Matthews before the gun jammed.
Dr. King said the shot to the mouth was at close range and would have made it difficult for the victim to breathe and caused serious blood loss.
Mr. Luck, after stumbling from the van, told persons who arrived on the scene, "I've been robbed."
Dr. King said the victim also had suffered a number of blows to the head, which he said could have been caused by the butt of Matthews' gun.
He said there was no sign of alcohol or drugs in the victim's body.
Attorney Corey said there was no proof that Taylor had planned to kill the restaurant operator, whose mail he had earlier taken and whose home he had burglarized several times, according to the proof.
She said he had "panicked and shot wildly out of fear" after Mr. Luck apparently became upset over some statement and made a move toward one of those in the vehicle.
She told Judge Curtis Collier, "This was totally spontaneous. There was no malice aforethought."
Attorney Corey said if there was a plan to do away with the victim, "it would have been much easier to do at his house rather than take him across the state line."
Prosecutor Neff said there was "copious evidence" to support a guilty conviction on all charges despite the change of testimony by Matthews, who he said was "not believable at all."