The third day of the death penalty trial against accused murderer Rodney Young focused primarily on Young's trip to Georgia in March 2008, with the prosecution attempting to show that the murder of Gary Jones was not the work of someone who is mentally retarded as the defense claims, but of a cold and calculating man who planned it all out.
A more complete picture of just where Young, or his cell phone, had been was shown when AT&T mobility engineer David Walker took the stand. He was able to show Young leaving Bridgetown, New Jersey, March 25, 2008 and follow his path through Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Social Circle and into Covington to the area of North Salem Road - less then two miles from Jones' home on Benedict Drive - at 8:27 p.m. before heading to Wendell Court in Atlanta, close to where the Rivers family lived.
His cell phone showed that on March 27, 2008, Young stayed in the Atlanta area all day. But the following day his cell phone was pinging off the Firetower Road tower in Covington (less then three miles from Jones' home) at 7 a.m., and at 7:10 a.m., he was in the North Salem Road area again before heading back to the Atlanta area around 8 a.m. On March 29, 2008 he once again stayed close to the Wendell Court area, with one brief foray into Covington.
However, the day of the murder, his phone shows him leaving the Wendell Court area at 1:02 a.m. and traveling to Covington. He arrived at the North Salem Road tower area at 2:33 a.m., then headed back to his sister's home around 7:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. his phone showed him back in Covington in the area of Fire Tower Road. At 12:15 p.m. he arrived back at North Salem, less then two miles from Jones' home. He didn't leave the Newton County area until after 7:30 p.m. The last anyone heard from Jones was around 1:30 p.m. Young's phone can be seen pinging its way back to New Jersey, where he arrives at 10:07 a.m., March 31, 2008.
According to a co-worker of Young's in New Jersey, the defendant borrowed his GPS device for a "vacation to Georgia," and when he returned it, one of the frequently used addresses was Salem Road, which is 1.2 miles from Jones' home according to Google Maps. New Jersey State Police Detective Matthew Peeke told jurors that Young's employer verified that he had requested March 26-28 off nearly a month before Jones' murder.
One of the more dramatic witnesses Wednesday was Elsie Thomas, Young's neighbor who has known him for over a decade. She testified that he told her near the end of March he was planning on taking a trip to visit his sister in Atlanta. She said when she next saw him the day after Jones' murder Young told her "somebody killed Doris' son."
Thomas said she saw him later that night when the two were sexually intimate and he told her Doris was going to put her stuff in storage and come back to New Jersey to stay with him.
On the fourth day of the trial, jurors heard the taped interview with Young and detectives in New Jersey. When detectives first approached him at his job he told them he hadn't driven to Georgia. But later, at the interview in the police station, his story changed.
When he finally admitted to being in Georgia he said he'd lied because he was scared then immediately told investigators "I haven't did anything." He also said if he was going to kill anyone it would have been Doris, but that Gary had done nothing.
"You killed him you know you did," said GBI Special Agent Wesley Horne. "You know he was a good person... this case is stronger against you then if I had an eyewitness who saw you do it. Eyewitnesses can be wrong, cell records aren't wrong... Your cell phone was in Covington at the time he was murdered. Where were you?"
The state rested at 2:19 p.m. Thursday and the defense began its case by bringing in a bevy of teachers from Bridgetown High School, where Young went to school.
All seemed to agree that Young was in the special education program and was diagnosed as educable mentally retarded, meaning he did not have the capacity to perform within the normal learning limits, according to retired teacher Wayne Hendricks.
The defense is set to continue their case Friday.