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John Pless June 8,2005 Prosecutors called witnesses Wednesday to say Isaac Jones was in a fit of rage, rather than insane as his defense team argued, when he admittedly killed Chattanooga Police Officer Julie Jacks.
Just before the shooting May 6 2002 Jones was under the care of Doctor John Besing at Parkridge Medical Center. He was taken there for a mental evaluation because people were concerned he acted "like a lunatic" when he took an exam at Chattanooga State Technical College, according to testimony.
Dr. Besing said lab tests showed Jones had marijuana in his system. In a taped confession played earlier this week in court Jones is heard saying that after smoking marijuana two days earlier, "my brain wasn't right man...I ain't never smoked no weed like that."
The emergency room physician said aside from being jittery Jones did not appear to be having hallucinations and was able to carry on normal conversations with nurses.
Dr. Besing said after an hour and a half had elapsed in the emergency room Jones' handcuffs were removed and he was taken to a private room for further evaluation. He said about 1:25 p.m. that day he saw Jones leaving the hospital through a set of doors.
Earlier evidence shows shortly after Jones left the hospital police were alerted and within minutes Officer Julie Jacks spotted Jones at the intersection of Kilmer and Vine Streets. A scuffle began and Jones grabbed Jacks gun and fired seven shots at Jacks.
Jones was taken into custody seconds later when back up officers arrived, and now retired Sergeant John Spain kept Jones in custody inside a police car. Spain recorded conversations he had with Jones for about an hour and a half.
That tape was played for the jury Wednesday, and during numerous occasions was paused so that Spain could clarify what was said in the sometimes muddled audio.
Jones can be heard screaming and demanding Spain take him away from the scene. Jones is heard on several occasions saying something about "having keys to heaven," and "the light." Later Jones said a woman "put salt in the water."
As time passed Spain is heard having more normal conversations with Jones as they sat in the car at the crime scene. On one occasion Jones is heard screaming "the pig, the pig." Jones also tells Spain "that white b---- can suck my ----."
Jones defense team wants the jury to believe Jones was insane at the time and his condition may have been enhanced by smoking pot. Prosecutors say Jones was sane and fully aware of his actions and their consquences.
According to Hamilton County Executive Assistant District Attorney General Barry Steelman, the jury could return several different verdicts; guilty of first degree murder, not guilty of first degree murder by reason of insanity or guilty of a lesser crime.
Steelman said the state should wrap up it's evidence Thursday afternoon, at which time the defense team will present their case.
The defense plans to call several "expert" witnesses, including doctors and mental health experts to testify.
The sequestered jury hearing the case is from Nashville, and it's possible the trial will continue through the weekend or possibly into next week.
Court officers say if the case continues through Monday, Judge Doug Meyer will recess early in the afternoon so that the numerous officers working security and observing the court proceedings can assist with the massive security detail for the Bessie Smith Strut Monday night.
John Pless June 9,2005 Prosecutors who are seeking the death penalty against Isaac Eugene Jones III presented more witnesses who said he seemed "normal" in the hours after Chattanooga Police officer Julie Jacks was murdered.
A key witness was Dr. Jim Wojick, who on May 6 2002 was an emergency room physician at Erlanger Medical Center. Dr. Wojick gave Jones a physical and mental evaluation after Jones was in police custody.
Dr. Wojick said Jones "was alert, oriented, communicating normally, not dillusional... and there was no evidence of psychosis or psychotic instability."
Another state witness, Chattanooga Police Sergeant Rick Mincey, said while he kept Jones in his custody he carried on normal conversations about the weather and his classes at Chattanooga State Technical College. Sgt. Mincey said Jones in no way displayed behavior typical of someone who suffers mental problems and appeared calm.
Prosecutors also presented Dr. Frank King, who is the Hamilton County Medical Examiner. He gave the jury details about the numerous gunshot wounds on Jacks' body.
In a recorded confession to Chattanooga Police major crimes detectives, Jones is heard explaining how he threw Jacks to the ground and used her own weapon to shoot her. The jury also heard Jones say "I would like to apologize to that woman's family I killed."
By late afternoon Thursday prosecutors rested their case. Jones' defense team is beginning their case with witnesses that include doctors and mental health professionals.
Jones defense team says he suffered a mental impairment and was under the influence of marijuana when he shot and killed Officer Jacks. They aregue the jury should consider finding Jones not guilty of first degree murder by reason of insanity.
The defense is expected to call up to a dozen or more witnesses in the trial that will continue into Saturday and next week.
Defense Witnesses Say Cop Killer Was Kind, Gentle College Student
John Pless June 10,2005 The defense team for Issac Jones presented witnesses who told the jury about his life just before he murdered Chattanooga Police Officer Julie Jacks.
Friend and former classmate Kenya Ervin said in the two years she knew Jones, he was "an intelligent, softspoken and gentle man." Ervin said on May 6, 2002 she was stunned to see Jones in the classroom screaming, carrying on in a bizaar fashion and acting paranoid and dillusional.
Jones' pastor, Walter Cross of the Washington Hills United Methodist Church, said Jones and his family were faithful members who all attended each and every week for services and Sunday school. Cross said Jones was always well mannered, well dressed and bright.
Cross said Jones' behavior and appearance drastically changed in the weeks before the May 6, 2002 shooting. He said Jones started skipping church services, had a sloppy appearance and burst into crying fits while he was laughing. Cross said Jones told him voices in his head were telling him to do bad things.
Jones' Sunday School teacher, Gwen Davis, said the gentle young man she knew who was dedicated to his faith and church became "out of focus, withdrawn and seemed to be in some kind of struggle."
Pricilla Jones, the defendant's aunt, told the jury her nephew asked to be taken to the hospital because "he felt like something was wrong with him but did not know what it was." Mrs. Jones said her nephew was checked out by a doctor who said he was "fine."
Jones' pharmacy tech instructor at Chattanooga State, Patricia Cole, testified Jones behavior was completely different the day he came to take an exam; the same day Jones killed Jacks hours later.
Cole said Jones walked into the classroom yelling "good morning," and continued with behavior she found troubling. She said when Jones turned in his exam it was blank.
Cole explained how Jones erratic behavior quickly escalated in the hallway outside her classroom to the point where he was yelling, spitting and kicking his shoes off toward the cieling.
Cole said Jones screamed "blasphemy, blasphemy" outside her room.
The instructor told the jury Jones was a quiet, shy and well mannered student who earned mostly "A's" in his courses. She said when she asked Jones what was wrong, he told her he got some marijuana from a girl earlier in the morning and smoked it prior to coming to class.
Testimony showed Chattanooga State security guards came to Cole's classroom, and they along with Chattanooga Police officers took Jones to Parkridge Medical Center for an emergency psychiatric evaluation.
Earlier in the week state witnesses said Jones ran out of the hospital and confronted Officer Julie Jacks a few blocks away. Police say Jones threw the 108-pound, 5'4" tall officer to the ground, took her gun and shot her repeatedly.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Jack's murder. Jones' defense team is trying to pursuade the jury that they should find him not guilty of first degree murder by reason of insanity.
Defense witnesses continue their testimony Saturday morning in a rare weekend session of court.