First-Degree Murder Convictions Returned In Reggie Clark Murder Trial

Friday, January 17, 2014 - by Hollie Webb
- photo by Hollie Webb

A Criminal Court  jury late Friday morning returned first-degree murder convictions against Roderick "Poo Poo" Bates and Emmett "D-Baby" Jones in the 2011 murder of Reginald "Reggie" Clark. 

The verdicts carry automatic life prison sentences.

Both are 27 years old.

There was chaos in the courtroom and in the hallway outside after the announcement of the verdicts. Some of those inside were screaming and yelling and had to be escorted outside by officers.

One shouted at an officer, "I'm going to light you up."

The trial was held under tight security with all who entered the courtroom having to go through a metal detector.

The panel had recessed for the night and resumed talks on Friday morning.

On Thursday morning, prosecutors Lance Pope and Amanda Morrison and defense attorneys Lee Ortwein and Clancy Covert gave their closing arguments. 

Prosecutor Morrison started, telling the jury that first-degree murder meant there was intent to kill. She summed up the chain of events on the night of the murder. Clark was at the Fire and Ice Club with his girlfriend, Larinder "K.K." Lewis, and friend Marterrius "Munchie" Daniel. 

According to the prosecution, Clark and Bates got into an argument that led to Clark flashing a gun at Bates. They said Clark and Daniel were asked to leave by a bouncer, and their friend Michael Battle, a firefighter, drove the group home. 

Prosecutor Morrison said Bates left shortly after, picked up Jones from his nearby home, then broke into Clark's home and shot him. 

No DNA evidence or fingerprints matching Bates or Jones was found at the house. But Attorney Pope said, "We don't go leaving latent identifiable prints everywhere we go." He said at Clark's own home, none of his DNA was found on his wallet or door.

Attorney Pope said there was also eyewitness testimony that placed the defendants as the shooters. 

However, Attorney Ortwein asked the jury to notice the inconsistencies in the witness testimonies, and to remember they had all been drinking at the time. In Daniel's original statement, he said he did not know who the shooters were, even though he was in the house. 

In one statement, Ms. Lewis said she knew "100 percent who shot Clark" and that she saw them. But, in a later statement, she said she did not know. Her sister also testified that Lewis "had a reputation for untruthfulness" and that she had previously lied in court. 

According to Attorney Ortwein, Ms. Lewis did not want to testify, but had a motive to help the police: she had pending warrants. 

In Sanford Ballou's 911 call, he told police he did not know who was shooting. 

Michael Battle said no one mentioned anything about an argument at the club when he was taking them home. Attorney Ortwein said, "I don't know about you, but if I or one of my friends pulled out a gun at the club, I'd be talking about it."

In a previous statement, Daniel had said it was Bates and Jones, but during the current trial, he said he did not know. Attorney Ortwein said, "He clearly loved Mr. Clark. Do you not think if he knew who killed Mr. Clark he would tell you? You saw him, he was crying on the witness stand."

Attorney Ortwein also pointed out that in the Waffle House security footage that the prosecution said depicted Bates and Jones, it was not completely clear who the two men were. He told the all-white jury that according to research, most people are able to identify people of their own race more accurately than people of another race. He called it a cross-racial identification problem. 

However, in the rebuttal, Prosecutor Pope showed the jury the video again. He pointed to an orange wristband worn by one of the men in the video, which came from the Fire and Ice Club. 

He said if they were not guilty, then they would have had no reason to run; one of the men left for Georgia. Jones also changed his hair soon after the day of the crime. 

Defendants brought into court
Defendants brought into court

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