It was the victim’s words that convicted his killer.
As Kima Evans’ mother helped her son, who was shot and bleeding in her driveway, a 911 phone operator was listening. And recording.
Faintly in that recording jurors could hear Evans’ words before he lapsed into a coma. The 35-year-old Chattanooga man called for help; he called for his momma.
He said a name: “Kaylon.”
After five hours of deliberation Thursday, a Hamilton County jury found Kaylon Bailey, 36, guilty of first-degree murder in Evans’ shooting death on the night of Jan. 13, 2012.
“I think in the end Kima Evans told [the jury] what happened,” said prosecutor Jason Demastus. “I think that’s why they rendered the verdict they did.”
Another jury heard nearly all of the same evidence but didn’t get to reach a verdict. In June, a mistrial was declared just as deliberations began — a juror admitted to his fellows he’d researched Bailey’s criminal history online. Bailey had served federal time on drug charges.
So both sides had seen each other’s playbooks.
But Demastus said he and fellow prosecutor Bates Bryan stuck to the same evidence and witnesses, certain that was the way forward in this trial, which began Tuesday.
Defense attorneys Mike Acuff and Zak Newman called the same defense witnesses. This time jurors were able to deliberate without the temptation of the Internet, television or newspapers — Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern had banned all of those things and sequestered the panel.
Jurors heard how police found 10 bullet holes, fired at close range into the SUV where Evans sat in the driveway of his mother’s home at 1706 Cambridge Drive.
They heard the medical examiner describe the six .223-caliber bullets that struck and ultimately killed Evans. They saw questionable records of cellphone activity putting Bailey in the area and an elaborate 3D digital scan of the crime scene.
But it was one word that likely did it — “Kaylon.”
Contact staff writer Todd South at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.
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 ...