Defense attorney grills witnesses in Chattanooga slaying

Defense attorney grills witnesses in Chattanooga slaying

July 12th, 2012 by Todd South in News

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 /Times Free Press.

An attorney for a man charged in a fatal shooting grilled witnesses Wednesday on what happened before and after a shot rang out on Feb. 27, 2010, at the Kanku's gas station on Wilcox Boulevard.

In the second day of Jamaal Byrd's murder trial, Fred Hanzelik questioned and re-questioned both the eyewitnesses and lead investigator Jay Evan Montgomery.

Hanzelik and his son and co-counsel, Ryan Hanzelik, have claimed that Byrd, 32, acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Terrance Etchison, 27.

Toward the end of a day filled with dozens of objections from both sides, not common in local criminal trials, Judge Rebecca Stern cautioned Fred Hanzelik after his lengthy questioning of Montgomery.

"Mr. Hanzelik, you've gone over this before; you're just starting to argue with the witness," Stern said.

Hanzelik seemed to be trying to create doubt among jurors as to what witnesses at the gas station testified to, especially events that happened after Byrd shot Etchison, which was captured on store video footage.

Prosecutors Matthew Rogers and Brian Finlay appeared increasingly agitated at Hanzelik's comments and methods of questioning during cross-examination.

For his part, Fred Hanzelik objected multiple times when witnesses inserted opinion into their answers, which is not allowed in most court testimony.

Prosecutors allege that Byrd and Etchison spoke inside the store and then left the building. Byrd returned to his car, retrieved and loaded a handgun and waited for Etchison as he spoke with people in nearby cars.

Etchison approached Byrd, who raised his gun and fired a single shot into Etchison's chest. Byrd then walked to his car and drove away, prosecutors claim.

Throughout the trial the Hanzeliks have highlighted testimony indicating Etchison threatened to kill Byrd inside the store over his belief Byrd had slept with his girlfriend.

The defense attorneys also have reviewed, in minute detail, video footage in an attempt to indicate Etchison may have had a weapon that could have been disposed of by friends after the shooting.

The trial resumes this morning with a prosecution witness.