In an unusual turn of events, the Towaliga circuit public defender was put on the stand as the only witness in a hearing for a new trial for convicted killer Joshua Cox Jan. 3 in Lamar superior court.Cox is serving life with the possibility for parole for killing his drug dealer, Donald Terrell Clark, in the driveway of Clark’s home on Chappell Mill Road. He was convicted on Jan. 26, 2017.At Friday’s hearing, Cox’s new attorney, Scott Key of Griffin, called chief public defender Doug Smith as his only witness. Smith and fellow public defender Rusty Knox represented Cox at trial.Key made several arguments. He said Cox’s first statement to Lamar investigators Laura Clark and Todd Pippin came 24 hours after heavy drug use and should not have been admitted at trial. ‘He was in no condition to give a free and voluntary statement,’ Key argued.Key suggested Cox got ‘ineffective counsel’ from the public defender’s office, noting Smith did not immediately seek a mistrial after a bailiff overheard jury members discussing self-defense while the trial was ongoing. ‘Had that issue been raised at the time, I believe a mistrial would have been granted,’ Key argued.Key and Smith also brought up what they considered Judge Wilson’s impugnment of a witness. As Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Control Center, was leaving the stand at trial, he asked the judge if he could be excused.Judge Wilson redirected the inquiry to the prosecution and defense tables, referring to the witness as Dr. Lopez. The judge then asked, ‘He is a doctor, isn’t he?’.Smith and Key were arguing that Cox had taken LSD the night before with a girlfriend, Misty Martin, and had been peaceful. He did not become violent until he smoked a blunt with Clark that was laced with a synthetic hallucinogen he was unaware of, they said.Dr. Lopez testified that drug was NBONe and was known to cause users to become violent. It was also undetectable with the drug screens available at the time of the killing.Prosecutor Cindy Adams refuted that argument, noting the jury had heard all of Dr. Lopez’s qualifications.As to the possibility Clark laced the marijuana with an hallucinogen without Cox’s knowledge, Adams argued Cox had bought and smoked marijuana with Clark many times previously.Judge Wilson took the matter under advisement, giving both sides until Jan. 14 to submit written support for their arguments.
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