Jamie Hood listens as he is found guilty of the murder of Athens-Clarke Police Officer Buddy Christian during his trial at the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse on Monday, July 20, 2015. (Richard Hamm/Staff) OnlineAthens / Athens Banner-Herald
Photo: Richard Hamm / Athens Banner-Herald
Photo: Richard Hamm / Athens Banner-Herald

Jamie Hood guilty of Athens double murder, death penalty phase next

The jury hearing the the death penalty trial of admitted cop killer Jamie Hood in Athens found him guilty of killing Athens-Clarke County officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian on March 22, 2011, and Omar Wray three months earlier.

Hood was convicted on 36 of 70 charges, according to Channel 2 Action News, including wounding officer Tony Howard. The sentencing phase of the trial begins Wednesday morning.

The jury reached the verdicts after just under six hours of deliberations Mondayday. The jury will now enter the penalty phase of the trial with the prosecution seeking the death penalty. Hood is the first defendant in Georgia that was facing the death penalty to defend himself.

The jurors – all from Elbert County — reached decisions on the 70 felony charges in five hours. The jurors worked six days a week and have been sequestered since June 24. They began their deliberations at 10:45 a.m. Monday and announced they had a verdict at 4:30 p.m.

“After being subjected to this dog and pony show as long as they have been, they were ready to go home,” said Michael Mears, who teaches at John Marshal Law School and has written a book on Georgia’s death penalty, but was not involved in this case.

The crime spree started when Judon Brooks came to Hood’s mother’s house on March 22, 2011. Hood said he had filled Brooks’ order for 50 pounds of marijuana, but that his friend tried to rob him. So, he said, he told three other men with him to bind Brooks’ ankles and wrists with zip ties and put him in the trunk of a car.

Hood said he couldn’t report Brooks to the police because that would make him a snitch.

“I couldn’t call the police. I was stuck. I did the best thing I could do to keep him from killing me,” Hood said.

Brooks escaped from the trunk and called the police.

Later that afternoon, Hood, a passenger in his brother’s SUV, crossed paths with Howard. Hood got out, ran by Officer Howard’s patrol car and shot him twice and then fired two times more.

He said he feared the officer was going to kill him.

Hood said he fatally shot Christian because the voice of his dead brother — killed years earlier by a policeman — was in his head, telling him, “Don’t let them do you like they done me.”

“I hated killing the man,” Hood said of Christian. “I been telling (people) for years I didn’t mean to do it.”

During the course of a four day manhunt Hood also took nine hostages and faced charges associated with that. He denied taking them hostage and said they were friends of his who allowed him to rest at their home. He was acquitted of several of the charges of holding them hostage as well as the kidnapping of Brooks.

Testifying on his behalf last week Jamie Hood faced the jurors and told them his truth about most of the crimes. He said he did everything the prosecutors said, except kill Wray.

“I’m not here to make excuses,” Hood said.

“I’m mad. Sad. Feel like I’ve been cheated out of my life,” he testified.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.