The third day of the death penalty trial against 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.
Leo and Latrice Rivers, Young's sister and brother-in-law told jurors about a trip Young had made to visit them in Atlanta beginning March 26, 2008. Young had never met either Rivers and had learned about his sister later in life. He called and told them he'd be visiting them about a week before he came, and that he planned to stay three days.
Friday morning when Latrice woke to get her children ready for school her brother wasn't there. He arrived right after they got off to school and when she asked Young where he had been he told her getting something to eat. Sunday morning, March 30, 2008, she woke around 7 a.m. to run errands. She said Young was still there when she left. The next time she spoke with him he said he was "on the road and he was concerned he was not going to make it back in time for work."
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 at 8:27 p.m. - less then two miles from Jones' home on Benedict Drive - before heading to Wendell Court in Atlanta, close to where the Rivers family lived.
His cell phone showed that on March 27, 2008 he stayed in the Atlanta area all day. But on March 28, 2008 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 arrives at the North Salem Road tower area at 2:33 a.m., then heads back to his sister's home around 7:30 a.m. At 10 a.m. his phone shows he is back in Covington in the area of Fire Tower Road. At 12:15 p.m. he is at North Salem, less then two miles from Jones' home. He doesn't leave the Newton County area until well in the evening, 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, Young 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. And New Jersey State Police Detective Matthew Peeke told jurors that Young's employer verified that he had requested March 26-28, 2008 off on March 3, 2008, 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 that he was planning on taking a trip to visit his sister in Atlanta. She said when she saw him after he got off work Monday, March 31, 2008 (the day after Jones' murder), he told her that "somebody killed Doris' son."
She said she saw him later that night when the two were sexually intimate and that he told her then Doris was going to put her stuff in storage and come back to New Jersey to stay with him.
The trial will continue Thursday.