Bates, Jones slaying trial heads to jury in Chattanooga

Bates, Jones slaying trial heads to jury in Chattanooga

January 16th, 2014 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Defendant Emmett Jones, second from left, stands with the defense team and defendant Roderick Bates, second from right, during jury selection in Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Jurors will hear closing arguments this morning in the week-long trial of Roderick "Poo Poo" Bates and Emmett "D Baby" Jones, both 27, who face first-degree murder and related charges in the 2011 death of Reginald Clark.

Prosecutor Lance Pope played two recordings for jurors on Wednesday. In the first, a taped statement to investigators, Jones swore repeatedly that he was not with Bates when the killing occurred and had nothing to do with it.

The second recording -- video footage -- showed the pair at the Waffle House on Brainerd Road a half hour after the shooting.

A repeat issue throughout the trial has been inconsistent witnesses with questionable credibility.

Pope's last witness, Chattanooga Police Department lead investigator Adam Emery, testified to detailed descriptions of the crime by two key witnesses -- Sanford Ballou and Larinder Lewis.

While on the stand, Lewis remembered little.

But in a recorded police interview hours after Clark's death, she named Bates and Jones and detailed how the two stood nearly shoulder-to-shoulder while firing bullets that killed Clark, 37, in his Greenwood Drive home on Oct. 7, 2011.

"I seen fire coming from both of the guns," Lewis said. "They can't say self-defense. They came right up and killed that man in cold blood."

But defense attorneys Lee Ortwein and Clancy Covert called Lewis' sister to testify. She said that Lewis had lied before under oath. Once, she said, Lewis claimed she had cancer in a juvenile court custody dispute over one of her children. The sister also testified that Lewis had called her from Florida 17 years ago and claimed she'd been kidnapped, which was not true.

Emery testified that he had to stage a fake arrest of both Ballou and Lewis so that a crowd of 20 to 30 people outside Clark's home wouldn't think they were talking with police.

Witnesses testified that Bates and Clark fought over Bates' girlfriend at the 807 Fire and Ice nightclub on Market Street before the shooting.

If convicted, both men face possible life sentences.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.