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Thread: Rodney Renia Young - Georgia Death Row

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    Rodney Renia Young - Georgia Death Row




    Case against Rodney Young moves forward

    Prosecution seeks death penalty

    On the heels of one death penalty case, Newton County is preparing for a second this year. Rodney Renia Young, 43, is accused of bludgeoning to death his ex-fiance's son, 28-year-old Gary Lamar Jones, in 2008.

    Attorneys for Young, Teri Thompson and Joseph Romond of the Georgia Capital Defender's Office, were in Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn's courtroom on Thursday, along with Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon. The goal was to hear motions from Young's attorneys, who wanted to suppress several items before the case goes to trial. Ozburn was ready to set a timeline for the case to proceed to trial this year.

    According to Special Agent Wesley Horn with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Young was involved with the victim's mother for seven years. When she ended the relationship and moved from New Jersey to her son's home on Benedict Drive in Covington, Young became enraged. At one point the victim's mother's home was destroyed in a fire that was ruled arson. Once she moved to Covington, Young reportedly sent her several letters, the content of which has yet to be released publicly.

    On March 30, 2008, the victim returned home from church at Springfield Baptist. His mother found him when she came home from work around 11:30 p.m., bound to a chair, stabbed in the neck and bludgeoned with a hammer. Threats including "Get out of the state Atlanta mom" and "we'll get you Atlanta mom" were scrawled in blood on the walls.

    According to Horn, on April 1, 2008, a witness came forward and said he had been approached by a man while he was sitting outside of a store on the square. The man drove a car with New Jersey plates and asked for directions to Benedict Drive. The witness later identified Young from a photo lineup. Subpoenaed cell phone records also put Young's cell phone on Washington Street just minutes after the witness said he spoke to him. They also show that he was close to the victim's residence on the day he was killed.

    The victim and his family were originally from New Jersey and shortly after his death local investigators headed to the Garden State to interview Young, with the help of investigators from the New Jersey State Police. On April 3, 2008, investigators visited Young at his job. According to Horn they noticed cuts on his knuckles, and when they asked him if he'd visited Covington lately, he initially denied it. In a later interview at the state police barracks, he admitted to being in the area but reportedly said he was here to visit a sister he'd never met and didn't go to the victim's home.

    Young at first cooperated with investigators. Recorded interviews show that he waived his rights and chose to speak with them and he voluntarily gave a DNA (mouth swab) sample when asked. Search warrants were obtained for Young's home and vehicle and.

    Defense attorneys want to suppress the evidence, claiming that it was "over-broad, extensive, far-reaching and unreasonable," as well as lacking in probable cause for the search warrant.

    They also contend that Young's statements should be suppressed because he was not reread his Miranda warnings at the police barracks, though law does not require that.

    "In a case of this magnitude we need to have increased reliability," said Romond, who added that with death penalty cases there was a heightened degree of scrutiny.

    Ozburn elected to hold off on a ruling regarding the interviews to give him time to listen to the four hours of recordings; however, he denied the motion to suppress the warrants.

    He also said that while he was ready to have this case move forward, it would be at least two months before Newton County's census results were available to them to look at a jury box being pooled properly. At Zon's request, he also questioned defense attorneys about the possibility of using a mental illness or mental retardation defense for Young. Ozburn gave the defense 30 days to file all non-jury related motions, including their plan to argue mental illness or retardation if they had one, a decision Romond objected to.

    "This case has been pending since 2008 and the last hearing was in April 2010," said Ozburn. "...I don't think it's unreasonable... He's been under arrest for going on three years now and I think this is a reasonable deadline, I'm not springing anything on you."

    Ozburn said he wanted to try the case in the fall if the census wasn't an issue.

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/19447/

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    Two death penalty cases in February

    Two accused murderers will have their death penalty cases heard in Newton County Superior Court February.

    Rodney Renia Young, 43, has been in the Newton County Detention Center since 2008 after being charged in the bludgeoning death of his ex-fiance's son, 28-year-old Gary Lamar Jones.

    According to the prosecution, Jones came home from church and was attacked. His mother found him when she came home from work around 11:30 p.m., bound to a chair, stabbed in the neck and bludgeoned with a hammer.

    Young has pleaded not guilty and will be defended by attorneys from the Georgia Capital Defender's Office. His case will be heard in the courtroom of Judge Samuel Ozburn beginning Feb. 6. Requests from Young's attorneys to continue the case until March were denied Wednesday.

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/24602/

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    Bridgeton man's murder trial slated in Georgia

    A Bridgeton man’s murder trial is set to begin next month in Covington, Ga., regarding the case of a 28-year-old former Rosenhayn man found stabbed and beaten to death in his home in March 2008.

    Rodney Young, 43, of Giles Street, has been charged with murder, malice murder and burglary in connection with the killing of Gary Lamar Jones, with the trial scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 13.

    Jones’ mother, Doris Jones, was living with her son in Covington, Ga., at the time of the murder, and was the one to find him bound to a chair, stabbed in the neck and beaten with a hammer on March 30, 2008.

    She has since moved back to Bridgeton.

    “I’m going to be going down there for the trial,” said the mother on Monday. “The (Newton County District Attorney’s Office) said they’re going to try to get the trial finished within a week.”

    According to Doris Jones, her son lived with her in Rosenhayn before relocating to Georgia seven years before his death.

    Young was arrested in Bridgeton on April 3, 2008, through a coordinated effort between the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, New Jersey State Police and Bridgeton City Police.

    Officials from the Newton County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Georgia Capital Defender’s Office, which is providing Young’s defense, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

    According to reports from the Covington News, Young and the victim’s mother had been romantically involved for seven years before breaking off the relationship and moving in with her son in Georgia.

    The break-up reportedly enraged Young, who allegedly began sent threatening letters to Jones’ Covington residence before the fatal incident.

    The local news in Covington in April of last year reported that prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty for Young.

    http://www.nj.com/cumberland/index.s..._trial_sl.html

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    Experts take the stand in Young trial

    The third day of the death penalty trial against Rodney Young focused primarily on Young's trip to Georgia in March 2008, with the prosecution attempting to show that the murder of Gary Jones was not the work of someone who is mentally retarded as the defense claims, but of a cold and calculating man who planned it all out.

    Leo and Latrice Rivers, Young's sister and brother-in-law told jurors about a trip Young had made to visit them in Atlanta beginning March 26, 2008. Young had never met either Rivers and had learned about his sister later in life. He called and told them he'd be visiting them about a week before he came, and that he planned to stay three days.

    Friday morning when Latrice woke to get her children ready for school her brother wasn't there. He arrived right after they got off to school and when she asked Young where he had been he told her getting something to eat. Sunday morning, March 30, 2008, she woke around 7 a.m. to run errands. She said Young was still there when she left. The next time she spoke with him he said he was "on the road and he was concerned he was not going to make it back in time for work."

    A more complete picture of just where Young, or his cell phone, had been was shown when AT&T Mobility engineer David Walker took the stand. He was able to show Young leaving Bridgetown, New Jersey March 25, 2008 and follow his path through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Social Circle and into Covington to the area of North Salem Road at 8:27 p.m. - less then two miles from Jones' home on Benedict Drive - before heading to Wendell Court in Atlanta, close to where the Rivers family lived.

    His cell phone showed that on March 27, 2008 he stayed in the Atlanta area all day. But on March 28, 2008 his cell phone was pinging off the Firetower Road tower in Covington (less then three miles from Jones' home) at 7 a.m. and at 7:10 a.m. he was in the North Salem Road area again before heading back to the Atlanta area around 8 a.m. On March 29, 2008 he once again stayed close to the Wendell Court area, with one brief foray into Covington.

    However the day of the murder, his phone shows him leaving the Wendell Court area at 1:02 a.m. and traveling to Covington. He arrives at the North Salem Road tower area at 2:33 a.m., then heads back to his sister's home around 7:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. his phone shows he is back in Covington in the area of Fire Tower Road. At 12:15 p.m. he is at North Salem, less then two miles from Jones' home. He doesn't leave the Newton County area until well in the evening, after 7:30 p.m. The last anyone heard from Jones was around 1:30 p.m. Young's phone can be seen pinging its way back to New Jersey, where he arrives at 10:07 a.m., March 31, 2008.

    According to a co-worker of Young's in New Jersey, Young borrowed his GPS device for a "vacation to Georgia," and when he returned it, one of the frequently used addresses was Salem Road, which is 1.2 miles from Jones' home according to Google Maps. And New Jersey State Police Detective Matthew Peeke told jurors that Young's employer verified that he had requested March 26-28, 2008 off on March 3, 2008, nearly a month before Jones' murder.

    One of the more dramatic witnesses Wednesday was Elsie Thomas, Young's neighbor who has known him for over a decade. She testified that he told her near the end of March that he was planning on taking a trip to visit his sister in Atlanta. She said when she saw him after he got off work Monday, March 31, 2008 (the day after Jones' murder), he told her that "somebody killed Doris' son."

    She said she saw him later that night when the two were sexually intimate and that he told her then Doris was going to put her stuff in storage and come back to New Jersey to stay with him.

    The trial will continue Thursday.

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/26534/

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    Cell phone records key in murder trial

    The third day of the death penalty trial against accused murderer Rodney Young focused primarily on Young's trip to Georgia in March 2008, with the prosecution attempting to show that the murder of Gary Jones was not the work of someone who is mentally retarded as the defense claims, but of a cold and calculating man who planned it all out.

    A more complete picture of just where Young, or his cell phone, had been was shown when AT&T mobility engineer David Walker took the stand. He was able to show Young leaving Bridgetown, New Jersey, March 25, 2008 and follow his path through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Social Circle and into Covington to the area of North Salem Road - less then two miles from Jones' home on Benedict Drive - at 8:27 p.m. before heading to Wendell Court in Atlanta, close to where the Rivers family lived.

    His cell phone showed that on March 27, 2008, Young stayed in the Atlanta area all day. But the following day his cell phone was pinging off the Firetower Road tower in Covington (less then three miles from Jones' home) at 7 a.m., and at 7:10 a.m., he was in the North Salem Road area again before heading back to the Atlanta area around 8 a.m. On March 29, 2008 he once again stayed close to the Wendell Court area, with one brief foray into Covington.

    However, the day of the murder, his phone shows him leaving the Wendell Court area at 1:02 a.m. and traveling to Covington. He arrived at the North Salem Road tower area at 2:33 a.m., then headed back to his sister's home around 7:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. his phone showed him back in Covington in the area of Fire Tower Road. At 12:15 p.m. he arrived back at North Salem, less then two miles from Jones' home. He didn't leave the Newton County area until after 7:30 p.m. The last anyone heard from Jones was around 1:30 p.m. Young's phone can be seen pinging its way back to New Jersey, where he arrives at 10:07 a.m., March 31, 2008.

    According to a co-worker of Young's in New Jersey, the defendant borrowed his GPS device for a "vacation to Georgia," and when he returned it, one of the frequently used addresses was Salem Road, which is 1.2 miles from Jones' home according to Google Maps. New Jersey State Police Detective Matthew Peeke told jurors that Young's employer verified that he had requested March 26-28 off nearly a month before Jones' murder.

    One of the more dramatic witnesses Wednesday was Elsie Thomas, Young's neighbor who has known him for over a decade. She testified that he told her near the end of March he was planning on taking a trip to visit his sister in Atlanta. She said when she next saw him the day after Jones' murder Young told her "somebody killed Doris' son."
    Thomas said she saw him later that night when the two were sexually intimate and he told her Doris was going to put her stuff in storage and come back to New Jersey to stay with him.

    On the fourth day of the trial, jurors heard the taped interview with Young and detectives in New Jersey. When detectives first approached him at his job he told them he hadn't driven to Georgia. But later, at the interview in the police station, his story changed.

    When he finally admitted to being in Georgia he said he'd lied because he was scared then immediately told investigators "I haven't did anything." He also said if he was going to kill anyone it would have been Doris, but that Gary had done nothing.

    "You killed him you know you did," said GBI Special Agent Wesley Horne. "You know he was a good person... this case is stronger against you then if I had an eyewitness who saw you do it. Eyewitnesses can be wrong, cell records aren't wrong... Your cell phone was in Covington at the time he was murdered. Where were you?"

    The state rested at 2:19 p.m. Thursday and the defense began its case by bringing in a bevy of teachers from Bridgetown High School, where Young went to school.

    All seemed to agree that Young was in the special education program and was diagnosed as educable mentally retarded, meaning he did not have the capacity to perform within the normal learning limits, according to retired teacher Wayne Hendricks.

    The defense is set to continue their case Friday.

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/26578/

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    Young guilty, not mentally retarded

    Penalty phase to begin Monday

    It took a jury just two hours to convict Rodney Renia Young of the murder of 28-year-old Gary Jones in March 2008, and despite the defense's claim of mental retardation, the jury found the 44-year-old was not mentally retarded, meaning he is eligible for the death penalty.

    The verdict came after nearly a week of testimony. While the state painted Young as a cold, calculating killer, the defense brought in former teacher's of the high school football star who called him a "man child" and "a big teddy bear," who tried but had many limitations.

    Young himself did not take the stand in his own defense. During testimony by witnesses and experts brought fourth by the state, Young sat with his head down for the most part, appearing meek, at times even rocking slightly. When the defense introduced witnesses Young sat mostly with his head up, at times smiling at his former teachers and coaches.

    During rebuttal testimony from Dr. Matthew Norman, an expert in forensic psychiatry, the jurors learned about how mental retardation is assessed. In addition to an IQ of 70 or below, a person must also have significant limitations on two or more of the following adaptive skill areas: communication, self care, home living, social skills, community use, self direction, health and safety, functional academic, leisure skill and work skills, and intellectual and adaptive deficits must have manifested prior to the age of 18.

    Since the school system had destroyed those records there was no way to see any IQ test that Young may have taken to prove his IQ. Doris Jones, the mother of murder victim Gary Jones, testified that all the times she had lived with Young over the seven year they had been involved off and on, he met none of the significant limitations required to diagnose a person as mentally retarded.

    During closing arguments one of Young's capital defenders Teri Thompson, said that District Attorney Layla Zon wanted the jury to "focus on the tragedy of his [Gary Jones] death."

    "We began this trial learning about the value of Gary's life and what he meant to those that loved him," she said. "...But it is with the lens of somebody who is mentally retarded that we want you to see all the evidence...This crime took no level of sophistication, no planning... You are jurors have an incredible burden now... as you consider the voices you've heard, we urge you to find that Rodney is indeed responsible, but that he's guilty but mentally retarded."

    Zon seemed almost to scoff at the defense's suggestion that jurors attempt to look at the crime through the lens of mental retardation, and said as much.

    "Look at this case through the lens of the truth not the lens of a group of teachers... who look back fondly at a Rodney they knew 20 years ago... this trial is about the truth, about the evidence... The one thing Rodney said that was true in that interview was that if he wanted to kill Doris he would have killed Doris. That's true. He didn't want to kill Doris, he wanted to kill her son... Is Rodney Young the teddy bear as he's been described? Certainly Gary Jones would say no."

    The penalty phase of the trial will begin Monday at 9 a.m. In it the defense will attempt to get jurors to spare Young's life and give him life in prison rather then the death penalty.

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/26584/

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    Penalty phase begins in Young trial

    The jury in the death penalty case has already ruled that Rodney Young is guilty but not mentally retarded in the 2008 murder of Gary Jones. Now they have to decide if the convicted murderer gets life in prison or the death penalty for his actions.

    "Listen to this evidence keeping in mind that the defendant was a grown man when he committed this offense," urged Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon.

    Young's capital defender Teri Thompson told jurors that Young would be punished "every hour of every day for the rest of his life," but asked them to not choose the death penalty in the case.

    "There is no excuse. What happened to Gary Jones was horrific... there is no defense and the pain and the agony that Gary Jones' family now lives with is terrible... We ask that you choose life for Rodney."

    Since Young has been convicted in Jones' death jurors can hear things in the penalty phase that they could not in the guilt/innocence portion of the trial, including about instances of violence in Young's past.

    A former girlfriend told jurors how Young once attacked her on the street, kicking and hitting her, causing bruised ribs and a bloodshot eye and that he once punched her at a bar so hard that she needed stitches both above and below her left eye.

    Doris Jones, the victim's mother and Young's girlfriend off and on for seven years told jurors that he had once choked her when she showed up to his home unannounced and that she had called the police on him in the past, once for swinging at her, once for smashing a brick through the hood of her car. Although she did file for a temporary protection order, she dismissed it and the two got back together.

    Friends and family of Jones were able to address the jury by reading from their victim impact statements.

    "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about what I saw. I replay the scene over and over of Gary's body when I came home that day," said Doris. "My son didn't deserve to die."

    She also told them that she now takes medication for depression, has a fear of unlocking doors and oftentimes wakes up screaming in the middle of the night from nightmares of finding her son's body, beaten, stabbed and bound to a chair in his church clothes.

    Jones' aunt Stephanie Chanel broke down as she told jurors about the close relationship she had with him and her anger.

    "I feel angry and hurt because my nephew didn't deserve to die the way he did... I don't understand now and I probably will never understand."

    And Jones' girlfriend at the time of his murder, Shanika Cole (who is a law enforcement officer in Walton County), shared her guilt that she didn't protect Jones, a man she called her "jewel."

    "The guilt is so heavy in my heart for the loss of my precious jewel... I took an oath to protect and I couldn't protect my own... I can only say that I miss my jewel so much... I never got to say goodbye. Gary I am so sorry for letting you down when you needed me most."

    The most emotional victim impact statement came from Jones' grandmother Annie Sampson.

    "I have a hard time accepting the murder of Gary. My heart feels like it has been ripped out. I will always miss him. That beautiful soul, his spirit, his love. I cant express my pain, my sorrow," she said, choking up slightly and pausing on the stand.

    "My life will never be the same. He was cut off from this life too early. He deserved to marry, to have children. I should have met great grandchildren by Gary. Why? I can't understand and I wish I could...
    When will this pain we are going through go away... I will always love Gary. He's in my heart."

    Young's defense attorneys brought forth many of the same teachers who taught him in high school nearly three decades ago - many of who seemed to express guilt for not having done more for Young when he was in high school.

    Wayne Hendricks who met Young at Bridgeton High School when Young was a student teared up when asking the jury for mercy.

    "Having known Rodney for as long as I have, he was a student, a father, a son, a brother and he's a friend. It's almost as if part of me is on trial because despite his limitations we worked together to get him where he could function as a successful individual. He has value... allowing him to live I think he could demonstrate the value that his life has."

    When Zon asked Hendricks if he knew any of the details of the murder of Jones he admitted that he did not.

    Young's mother Sarah Brihm told jurors of an absent father and summers spent in the blueberry fields. She is now the legal guardian of Young's youngest daughter.

    "I'd like the jury to know that Rodney has been a good boy and I think there can be more punishment without the death penalty... I miss my son every day."

    The last to take the stand to plead for Young's life was his 16-year-old daughter. She told jurors that she planned to attend college in Georgia when she graduates high school to be closer to her father and that he tries to speak to him regularly. When asked to read a birthday card she sent to her father she broke down on the stand, begging jurors, "please don't kill my dad!"

    http://www.covnews.com/section/1/article/26642/

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    Man gets death penalty in 2008 murder

    A New Jersey man found guilty Friday in the grisly murder of a Newton County man was sentenced to death Tuesday evening in Newton County Superior Court.

    Despite indications earlier in the day that one juror was holding out against the death penalty, the jury of seven women and five men returned a unanimous verdict of death at about 7 p.m.

    Rodney R. Young was found guilty on all five counts he faced -- malice murder, two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault and burglary -- in connection with the bludgeoning and stabbing death of 28-year-old Gary Lamar Jones in 2008.

    Judge Samuel Ozburn presided over the trial prosecuted by District Attorney Layla Zon and Assistant District Attorney Melanie Bell with attorneys Joseph Romond and Teri Thompson of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender representing the defendant.

    Jones, an employee of Red Lobster restaurant in Conyers and an active member of Springfield Baptist Church, was found dead in his home on March 30, 2008, by his mother Doris Jones who had recently moved from New Jersey to Georgia to live with her son at 65 Benedict Drive.

    Evidence soon pointed to Young with whom the mother had had a relationship. Young was arrested in his hometown of Bridgeton, N.J., less than a week after the slaying. He was extradited and had been awaiting trial at the Newton County Detention Center.

    Faced with overwhelming evidence, the defense conceded that Young committed the crime, but maintained he is mentally retarded and, according to attorney Thompson who made the closing argument for the defense, "possessed no level of sophistication, no planning," in connection with the crime that included battering with a hammer and inflicting multiple stab wounds on the victim.

    In his charge to the jury, Ozburn instructed them on each charge that they could find the defendant guilty, not guilty or guilty but mentally retarded. The latter charge would have meant that Young would be remanded to the Georgia Department of Corrections which would see to it that mental health treatment was provided to him. The guilty verdict meant that the trial moved into the sentencing phase Monday.

    http://www.rockdalecitizen.com/news/...n-2008-murder/

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    Killer’s lawyers: Prosecutor paid witnesses and hid it

    By Rhonda Cook
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Lawyers for a man sentenced to death for murder are seeking a new trial because the prosecutor paid witnesses and did not disclose it.

    An angry Newton County District Attorney Layla Zon said during a hearing Monday on a motion for a new trial that the witnesses — three of them flown from New Jersey — were only reimbursed for the wages they lost while waiting in a Covington motel until time to testify in the 2012 death penalty trial of Rodney Young.

    Young was living and working in New Jersey when he drove to Georgia to murder his ex-girlfriend’s son.

    “These witnesses did not make any money to come down here,” said Zon, who obtained the pay records from each worker before they were reimbursed. “It’s insulting.”

    But Zon conceded that she had never before given a witness more than the $25 per diem allowed by Georgia law or reimbursed witnesses for expenses such as meals, transportation and hotels. Prosecutors called 14 witnesses who lived in New Jersey, but only three of them, plus one witness from Riverdale, were paid for wages they lost while being away from their jobs to testify.

    Except for expert testimony, paying “lay” witnesses “has never happened before in a criminal prosecution in Georgia,” said Josh Moore, one of Young’s lawyers. “This is an inappropriate, illegal payment. … She held a $700 check over their heads illegally and the jury needed to hear about it.”

    Young’s lawyers, including attorneys from ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, were in a Covington courtroom Monday to argue for a new trial because the payments were not disclosed and that information could have been used when those witnesses were questioned.

    In the trial three years ago, Young’s lawyers argued he was intellectually disabled, which would have made him ineligible for the death penalty. The defense called some of his teachers, who testified that there was evidence of the disability.

    The prosecution countered by calling former co-workers, including three of those paid, who said Young did his job well, was punctual and showed no signs of an intellectual disability.

    Young’s lawyers say his work records, since acquired, show otherwise. They argued Monday that the paid witnesses — Benito Lopez, Edward Harris, Wanda Wilcher and Latrice Rivers — testified in such a way as to ensure they’d get the money.

    ACLU lawyer Brian Stull said just as Lopez, Harris, Wilcher and Rivers would do a good job in order to get paid by their employers, they would give the testimony Zon wanted so she would reimburse them for the wages they lost while taking part in the trial.

    Lopez and Harris were paid $700, Wilcher more than $400, and Rivers $100. Each also got the $25 per diem that Georgia law allows.

    Zon said she didn’t tell Young’s lawyers about the reimbursements for lost wages because they didn’t ask.

    Moreover, she said the suggestion by Young’s lawyers that the four witnesses lied because of the money did not make sense. “They broke even is not an incentive to lie,” Zon said. “That does not make any sense.”

    It could be several months before Judge Samuel Ozburn rules. Young’s lawyers are also challenging the law that requires proof of intellectual disability beyond a doubt, the highest legal standard, which no other state uses.

    Young murdered 28-year-old Gary Lamar Jones because his mother, Doris Jones, had ended their seven-year relationship and moved to Georgia to live with her son.

    On March 30, 2008, Doris Jones came home from work to find her son bound to a chair, stabbed in the neck and bludgeoned with a hammer. Messages written in blood were scrawled on the walls — “get out of the state Atlanta mom” and “we’ll get you Atlanta mom.”

    Witnesses led police to Young, who offered to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison without parole. But Zon pushed for the death penalty.

    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local...nd-hid-/nqbBR/

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    District attorney draws heat over toy electric chair

    By Bill Rankin
    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    "Death Row Marv" is a battery-powered toy electric chair that produces an electric buzzing sound with Marv's eyes glowing red under a helmet attached to electrodes. After his "electrocution," Marv asks, "That the best you can do, you pansies?"

    Because the toy was on display in District Attorney Layla Zon's office, it now figures prominently in a recently filed court motion that seeks to overturn a Newton County death sentence.

    The motion contends Zon is "pathologically enthralled" with the death penalty and has pursued it with a fervor and zeal unmatched by any other district attorney in the state. Zon is DA of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, which consists of Walton and Newton counties.

    On Wednesday, Zon said she seeks the death penalty only in cases that warrant it. As for "Death Row Marv," it was already in her office when she became district attorney in 2010 and she recently removed it.

    "It was not something I purchased to decorate my office," she said. "It was a left-behind trinket that became part of the woodwork. ... I never sat and looked and fixated on it, like it was part of some medieval mindset."

    Marv was a fictional character created by comic book legend Frank Miller for the "Sin City" graphic novel series. Actor Mickey Rourke portrayed Marv in a 2005 movie adaptation. In "The Hard Goodbye," Marv is sentenced to die in the electric chair and survives the 1st jolt - prompting the "you pansies" retort. His executioners then pull the switch again to finish the job.

    The toy did not define her philosophy on capital punishment, Zon said. "But when the evidence and the law are not on their side, they launch ad hominem attacks."

    State capital defender Josh Moore, who filed the motion on behalf of condemned inmate Rodney Young, declined to comment. In 2012, Young was condemned to die by lethal injection for killing his ex-fiancee's son.

    An estimated 1,400 murder cases that were eligible for the death penalty have been closed statewide since Zon took office and fewer than 1 % of them resulted in death sentences, the motion said. Young's case was "considerably less aggravated" than the other death cases, the motion said, but his crime occurred in Newton County, where Zon turned down his offer to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole.

    Since 2011, there have been 13 death-penalty trials statewide and 4 of them took place in Newton County, the motion said. During that same time frame, Georgia juries imposed 5 death sentences and 2 of them came from Newton.

    "These statistics resoundingly confirm what Ms. Zon's toy electric chair perhaps only suggests: that her fixation with the death penalty is completely out of step with the sensibilities and evolving standards of decency in this state," the motion said.

    The motion notes that the Georgia Supreme Court in 2001 found that death by electrocution caused excruciating pain with a certainty of "cooked brains and blistered bodies."

    "The idea of any elected state official memorializing such a barbaric (and unconstitutional) practice with an office ornament would be surprising and troubling," the motion said. "The fact that the elected official at issue here is a constitutional officer entrusted with virtually unfettered discretion in deciding which defendants under her jurisdiction will be singled out for execution, and which will be spared, is cause for real concern."

    Zon said she now wishes she had "trashed" the toy when she first saw it.

    As for the 2 death sentences she obtained, Zon said, jurors from both trials unanimously agreed the ultimate punishment was necessary. And the case involving Young was particularly heinous, she said.

    Young killed Gary Lamar Jones because his mother had ended her relationship with Young, Zon said. On a Sunday in March 2008, Jones returned home from church and was overtaken by Young, who tied him to a chair.

    Young bludgeoned Jones with a hammer, sliced open his throat with a knife and beat him so viciously he was found dead with an eyeball hanging out of his face, Zon said. "I think if confronted with those same facts, DAs in other counties would have sought death too."

    http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local...ic-chai/nrYN2/

    - - - Updated - - -

    Is it just me or does any one else want the above toy?
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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