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Testimony underway in cabbie killer case

Testimony is underway in the main courtroom of the Monroe County courthouse in the murder trial of Jamarris Latuan ‘Man” Williams. Assistant district attorney Scott Johnston and public defender Douglas Smith gave opening statements Tuesday morning and six witnesses took the stand. Williams was in court in khaki pants and long-sleeved, red dress shirt and black shoes. He seemed engaged and listened intently to testimony. During breaks, he smiled and conversed with one particular Monroe County deputy, a black male, who was working the courtroom where security was tight. A throng of Dixson family members also looked on quietly. Williams is charged with robbing and murdering cab owner John Dixson and dumping his body in a southeast Lamar County ravine off Yatesville-Forsyth Road known as ‘the dropoff’. Those appearing in court in order were: Scott Johnston, assistant DA: Johnston encouraged the jury to keep their “eyes on the ball” and not to “follow any rabbitt trails”. He said three people were in Dixson’s cab the morning on March 15, 2012, the day he disappeared. They were the defendant Williams, Stephen Ruffin and Anthony Wilson. He said Dixson carried a blue change purse and a pink comb and testimony about those items would be crucial because they or similar items were in Williams’ possession when he was arrested. He said Williams told his girlfriend Dixson was dead before the body had been found. He encouaged the jurors to follow the scientific evidence which will show Williams’ DNA in Dixson’s car and, in one spot, the two mens’ blood/DNA were mixed. Public defender Douglas Smith: Smith agreed Williams was in the cab on the fateful morning. “We have different witnesses the prosecution does not want you to hear. There are a lot of different timelines. Take notes. We start off with my client being presumed innocent,” he said. He went through the nicknames jurors would hear. Jamarris Williams is ‘Man’. His brother, Jenez Williams is ‘Noonk’. Kristopher Jackson is ‘K.J.’ or ‘Country’. He talked of bloody money Jenez Williams said his brother gave him. There were multiple stories about the money. Williams told investigators he and his girlfriend, Alicedonia Jones, put the money in a sandwich bag and threw it in the woods. He later said it was flushed down at toilet at Jones’ mother’s house. Finally, Smith, argued, Jenez Williams said he spent the money. He also noted bloody jeans were found at Jenez Williams’ house. That blood could not be traced to Jamarris Williams or Dixson. He also said the jeans the state says Jamarris Williams wore when he killed Dixson belonged to Jenez Williams. The primary DNA recovered from them was from a female, he added. Latravia Shropshire, 34, Dixson’s grandaughter: She said it was unusual for Dixson not to come home. She testified he kept a blue United Bank change purse or bag and a comb with him. She said the color of the comb varied. Under crossexamination she said she could not remember being shown a phone or a lighter by investigators. Jonathon Sutton, former BPD officer: Sutton testified that he did a welfare check on Mr. Dixson on the night of March 15, 2012 and never found him. Anthony Wilson, 32.: Wilson testified Dixson picked him up in front of the BPD on March 15 to take him to his job as a car detailer at the ‘old Ford place’ in Barnesville at about 10:30 or 10:45 a.m. At that point, Jamarris Williams was in the front seat of the cab wearing black jeans, a white t-shirt with a t-shirt or doo rag around his head. He said they stopped to pick up a ‘white guy’ near Gordon State College then Dixson dropped him at his job. He said paid Dixson $4 in bills and worked 30-45 minutes before calling Dixson to pick him up to go home. Dixson never answered and he never saw him again. Stephen Ruffin, 32: Ruffin was the white guy in the cab. He said Dixson picked him up on Georgia Avenue and Williams and Wilson were in the cab. They dropped Wilson at the old Ford place, stopped at Sammie’s for cigarettes and then went to his job. He works for his father at Jazz Printing at 131 Howard Road as a screen printer. He also placed Williams in the front seat of the cab in jeans, a white shirt and a doo rag. He said he offered Williams a job blowing out screens and he seemed interested. He got Williams’ phone number. He also testified that Dixson was interested in buying his grandmother’s 1991 Mercury Cougar which he saw every day at the Howard Road address. He said Dixson said he had ‘cash in hand’ and for his grandmother to get the title ready. He did not pay Dixson in that he usually paid him after his ride home. He also finished work, called Dixson and got no response. He said he had expected Dixson to come that day for the Cougar. Deana Jackson: Jackson said Williams arrived at her home in the cab on March 15 before noon, came in the house, used the bathroom, asked to borrow her truck and left in it. She admitted to cleaning some trash out of the cab which she did not recognize as having been there previously. Williams often did work for her, fished at her pond and used the truck. She gave Williams something to eat and drink and he left in the truck but got something from the cab that appeared to be a shirt or coat. She is the grandmother of KJ. Under cross-examination, she testified she cleaned the car because she is a neat freak and thought she was helping Williams out. When asked if she wiped the car down, she answered, “No. Why would I do that?”. Kelis Collier, 28: Collier testifed he was at the Dixson home on March 16 with the family and a large group of people. He and Eric Hamm knew of ‘the dropoff’ on Yatesville-Forsyth Road and went to look for Dixson there. He said they saw what appeared to be vehicle tracks in the grass, got out of their car and spotted the body in the ravine. He and Hamm called 911. Smith got Collier to admit he had an injury over his eye at the time. Collier also admitted he was pretty good friends with KJ and knew Man and Noonk. He also admitted he later texted KJ and told him to go to the sheriff’s office and clear his name. At this point, Judge Bill Fears broke for lunch.

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