published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Chattanooga jury deliberates Jamaal Byrd verdict

Jamaal Byrd talks with one of his lawyers, Ryan Hanzelik, during the opening of his trial Tuesday. Byrd is accused of shooting and killing Terrance Etchison at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's in 2012.
Jamaal Byrd talks with one of his lawyers, Ryan Hanzelik, during the opening of his trial Tuesday. Byrd is accused of shooting and killing Terrance Etchison at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's in 2012.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

A jury continues deliberating the verdict this morning in the murder trial of a 32-year-old Chattanooga man charged with shooting another at a local gas station in 2010.

Jamaal Byrd is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 27, 2010, shooting death of Terrance Etchison, 27, at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's gas station.

Attorneys finished closing arguments Thursday afternoon before Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern. The jury deliberated for two hours before being sent home at 5 p.m.

Byrd's defense attorneys, father and son Fred and Ryan Hanzelik, argued throughout the trial that their client acted in self-defense and pointed at testimony that Etchison threatened Byrd inside and outside the gas station.

The pair tried to show through security camera footage that Etchison may have been holding a weapon, but all the witnesses testified that they saw no weapon in Etchison's hands.

Fred Hanzelik criticized the selection of prosecution witnesses, many of whom were Etchison's friends, and police failure to attempt to locate many other potential witnesses at the gas station.

But prosecutors Brian Finlay and Matthew Rogers rebuted the self-defense theory in their closing arguments.

"All right, they had some words; they had an argument," Finlay told the jury. "Did Terrance Etchison deserve to die like that, over some words?"

Video footage shows Byrd left the store, went to his car and got a gun from the trunk. He loaded it and sat in the car briefly, then got out and walked toward Etchison, raised his right hand and fired a bullet into the other man's chest.

Another camera shows Etchison exited the store at nearly the same time as Byrd, walked to cars parked at the gas pumps a few dozen feet from Byrd and talked to passers-by.

Footage then showed a friend either hand Etchison something or take something from his hand before Etchison and Byrd approached each other.

After the shooting, the video showed several people briefly handling Etchison's body. Witnesses testified that they were checking on him. One said he took a ringing cellphone from Etchison's pocket.

But Fred Hanzelik argued that those same people could have taken a weapon and disposed of it before police arrived.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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