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Murder hearing may have tipped defense strategy

Jamarris Williams was in Lamar superior court Tuesday afternoon for a hearing on two motions and the defense appeared to be preparing to try to pin the murder of local cab company owner John Dixson on another man – Williams’ friend Christopher Jackson. Williams allegedly stabbed Dixson in the throat and left him to die in a southeast Lamar County ravine on March 16, 2012. Williams is charged with malice murder, three counts felony murder, armed robbery, two counts aggravated assault and hijacking a motor vehicle. Tuesday’s hearing opened with Judge Bill Fears noting the case had been set for trial last November before the upheaval in the public defender’s office which saw chief defender Wanda Johnson ousted and replaced by Douglas Smith. ”This is not Mr. Smith’s fault. In fact, he has done an admirable job of cleaning up some things,” Judge Fears noted. Assistant district attorney Scott Johnston eventually took up his motion to depose witness Deana Jackson. Ms. Jackson is the grandmother of Christopher Jackson. Dixson’s cab was found at the Jackson home on Yatesville-Forsyth Road about a mile from where Dixson’s body was found. Williams used a truck from the Jackson residence to return to town after allegedly leaving Dixson to die. ”Her testimony is critical. Right after Williams was seen in the cab with Dixson, she saw Williams drop the cab at her house,” Johnston said. Smith, on Williams’ behalf, argued Ms. Jackson did not fit the deposition criteria of being at least 72 years old and in failing health. ”I thought she was old and sick. My staff talked to her. She is not frail. In fact, she was offended somebody thought so. I’ve only seen depositions like this done rarely like in the case of police officers who were going off to Afghanistan,” Smith said. ”I’m not inclined to give the district attorney’s office a trial run through what her testimony might be,” he added. Johnston agreed that Ms. Jackson is 69, well under the required age. ”We will be forced to withdraw the motion. She is not going to meet the health requirement,” he admitted. Next up was a defense motion that materials already at the crime lab be tested. The items include two pair of pants and two pair of shorts taken from Christopher Jackson’s house and a green towel taken from the home of Williams’ girlfriend Christa Evans at Fuller’s Trailer Park. Johnston noted the items were at the crime lab but had not been tested. “They were preliminarily tested at the scene by (crime scene specialist) Todd Crosby and tested negative for blood, the fluid of interest in this case,” Johnston said. “They were picked up because of stains but tested negative for blood. The crime lab said further testing would be a waste of time,” he added. Smith countered that the original test was with a swab. “We want a luminol test that shows blood even after washing and bleaching. They were found at Chris Jackson’s house. They may have been cleaned. Ms. Jackson has admitted to cleaning out Mr. Dixson’s cab for some reason. These jeans are the same size as another pair found at the home of Christa Evans at Fuller’s Trailer Park that did test positive,” he argued. Also at the lab is a green towel found at the home of Williams’ brother at 5 Miami Street in Barnesville. Johnston noted that the defense has asked the GBI to test the items but they declined. “They said they tested the most probative items,” he relayed. Judge Fears agreed to order the testing done. ”I’ll order them to test them and we will see what they say. I don’t want to bring them up here and hold them in contempt. I will order these items added to the test list out of an abundance of caution,” the judge noted. Smith agreed with the judge’s analysis. ”These are simple tests that shouldn’t take long. We only want to try this once,” he concluded.

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