Chaos filled murder trial ends with dual life sentences
The flood of raw emotion surrounding the Roderick Bates & Emmett Jones murder trial was palpable both inside and outside Judge Barry Steelman's courtroom.
"Dude, I'm telling you one more time I will light you up," said a Hamilton County deputy/court bailiff who drew his taser on a vocal critic of the verdict.
But the approximate 20 minute stoppage couldn't delay the inevitable as jurors returned their decision in the week long trial.
The jury confirmed they were unanimous in their decision to find both defendants guilty of first degree murder and especially aggravated burglary in the October 7, 2011 fatal home invasion that left 37 year old Reginald Clark dead.
"The eyewitness statements collected by the Chattanooga Police Department right after the homicide took place, the incident was fresh in the witnesses minds, they gave very detailed statements describing both perpetrators , identifying them as the two men in the courtroom today and convicted of first degree murder, I think that made the most difference," said Prosecutor Lance Pope.
The fatal shooting stemmed from an argument between the victim and Bates hours beforehand at a downtown nightclub.
During the weeklong trial, court security was at a premium, with deputies installing a second metal detector for everyone entering, in light of alleged threats directed at key prosecution witnesses.
"The court sentences you to life in prison, said presiding Judge Steelman to both defendants after jurors confirmed their decision to convict both of the accused. A sentencing phase delayed by profane outbursts from defendants and the trial gallery."A lot of emotions were high in respect to the jury, it's been a long trial, a lot of witnesses testified, high emotions always in a first degree murder trial," said Pope.