Ethiopian murder trial in Atlanta continues next week

By Josh Green | Gwinnett Daily Post

LAWRENCEVILLE, GEORGIA – Quincy Jackson‘s murder trial will spill into a second week but could end as early as Monday, prosecutors said after a fourth day of testimony Friday.

First on the list of witnesses Monday should be the state’s star witness, Lorna Araya, an Ethiopian immigrant and the alleged mastermind behind three home-invasion robberies that culminated in the March 2008 death of Lilburn (a suburb of Atlanta) resident Tedla Lemma, 51 — also an immigrant from Ethiopia.

Police have said Araya has implicated all her co-defendants since her capture.

Jackson, 29, of Riverdale, is the first of four suspects to be tried who police believe played a role in Lemma’s killing. He faces 17 counts, including felony murder, burglary and kidnapping.

Prosecutors say Lemma’s wallet, Social Security card and other possessions were found in Jackson’s home. His defense team argues prosecutors lack direct evidence linking him to the crime scenes.

In testimony Friday, cell phone experts told jurors that a phone registered as Jackson’s was used near each of the three crime scenes within hours of the robberies.

Jackson’s attorney, Matthew Crosby, pointed out that such records track only when and where the phone was transmitting, not who was using it.

Christa Kirk, Assistant District Attorney, said the state plans to call three or four more witnesses, including investigators and the county’s chief medical examiner. Closing arguments by the state could come Monday afternoon.

Crosby said the defense has six witnesses subpoenaed and prepared to testify, but it remains to be seen how many of them, if any, he’ll call. Much is riding on Araya’s testimony, he said. “As of right now, we’re on the fence,” he said.

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