Admitted cop killer Jamie Hood on Friday called the last witness in his death penalty case.
“I guess I’ll be calling Mr. Jamie Hood to the stand as I promised,” said Hood, who is representing himself against 70 felony charges, including murdering officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian on March 22, 2011, and Omar Wray three months earlier.
Even though his formal plea to the court is not guilty, Hood does not deny he killed Christian or that he wounded another police officer, Tony Howard. He denies, however, that he killed Wray, who was shot to death just after Christmas 2010 because he allegedly wouldn’t tell Hood where to find a certain drug dealer.
The trial continues Saturday with the prosecution calling witnesses to rebut some of Hood’s testimony.
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 said.
For 45 minutes, Hood spoke hurriedly, sometimes using racial epithets or crude language, to describe his life.
He said he wanted to tell everything because his life is over.
“I’m not here for Jamie Hood,” he said. “I’m here for the little kids coming up behind me. It’s got to stop. My mind and my soul are at peace. This punishment I got to take.”
Hood was animated, frequently standing up to simulate slow-motion running so jurors could visualize the four days he hid from local, state and law enforcement officers.
But under cross examination, the animosity between Hood and District Attorney Ken Mauldin was unbridled. Hood also was defiant when the judge lectured him about answering the questions Mauldin asked.
Hood, with his chin jutted out in defiance, said: “I’m going to answer the question like I want to. Is this a kangaroo court?”
The jury was shepherded out of the courtroom and Hood continued. “It’s right at the end (of the trial). If you want to cut it off, cut it off. … What do I care?
“Ain’t nobody going to tell me how to answer,” he said.
Hood insisted that he was “not a cop killer.”
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.”
He said he encountered officers several times in the hours after the shooting, but never tried to harm them. “If I was a cop killer, I could have shot them.”
Hood testified he met a trooper as he walked along an Athens street. Hood said he waved and the trooper drove off. That happened again with a police officer.
Hood spent his first night in the woods, occasionally stripping down to his underwear and covering himself with leaves and dirt when police helicopters would come by. The second night, he said, he slept under a old pickup truck.
Hood knocked on the doors of several friends who would not let him inside. At least twice, however, he was allowed in and he told them he would surrender so they could claim the $50,000 reward.
A four-day manhunt ended when Hood took hostages, then called state law enforcement to say he would surrender if his arrest was covered on live television to ensure his safety.
Hood started his testimony, a narrative, by telling the jury about his 1997 armed robbery conviction when he was 19.
When he got out of prison 12 years later, he said, he couldn’t find a job even though he was a certified auto mechanic and also had a commercial driver’s license.
“I couldn’t get a job and that’s when I felt like a slave. You could work me for free (in prison), but once I’m released I couldn’t get a job,” he said.
He told jurors he started selling drugs so he could support himself and his family.
“I had nothing and then I had something,” Hood said.
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