Murder defendant suggests a conspiracy, sloppy police work

Accused cop killer Jamie Hood told jurors in his opening statement Thursday that his prosecution was a conspiracy by law enforcement determined to get “revenge” for the death of an Athens-Clarke County police officer and he continued that theme when he cross-examined prosecution witnesses.

Hood, acting as his own attorney, asked a former supervisor with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and a 911 center official why they didn’t bring more records, not just the ones prosecutors requested.

He asked both if they thought his death penalty case was important and he accused them of unethical behavior for not bringing more records. “Or do you have something to hide?” Hood asked in his questioning of Jim Fullington, who is chief of the Winder Police Department but was a supervisor with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 2011 when Hood allegedly killed Athens-Clarke County police officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian III.

In his opening statement earlier Hood told juries about the shooting deaths of his brother and a friend, killed by police officers, and a stint in prison for an armed robbery he said he didn’t commit.

“The evidence will show I was illegally convicted of an armed robbery charge that I’m innocent of. Destroyed my life and played a significant role in the charges I now have,” Hood said.

He blamed also one of his victims, police officer Tony Howard, for the crime spree that left Christian dead in his patrol car on March 22, 2011.

Hood has pleaded not guilty to murder and dozens of other felonies even though he has admitted several times in court that he killed Christian.

Christian and Howard were both shot after Hood was pulled over for allegedly kidnapping Judon Brooks. Brooks said Hood bound his hands and feet and put him in the trunk of his car because he wouldn’t tell Hood where to find Kenyatta Campbell, a drug dealer now serving a life sentence.

Police searched for Hood for four days after the shooting, until he called the GBI to tell law enforcement officers where they could find him. He decided to release his hostages only after officers agreed his surrender could be covered live on television. Hood also is charged with murdering Kenneth Omari Wray when he refused to tell Hood Campbell’s whereabouts. Prosecutors say ballistics linked Wray’s death to the shootings of the police officers almost three months later.

District Attorney Ken Mauldin is seeking the death penalty for the deaths of Christian and Wray.

“They say I committed murder because I was cut out of a drug connection,” Hood said. “The evidence will show these are ugly lies; not just lies, but ugly lies. Something is greatly wrong with the reason I am facing the charges that I have. There have been some unfortunate things to happen to me in my life that led me to face these charges. I have had some unfortunate experience with police brutality and police misconduct.”

Hood insisted on representing himself after he fired two sets of attorneys from the Office of the Georgia Capital Defenders after they suggested his mental competency may be an issue. Hood agreed to let one of those attorneys serve as “stand by” council to offer advice on procedures only.

Hood spent the beginning of his 25-minute opening statement speaking about the separate shooting deaths of his brother, Timothy, and his friend, Edward Wright.

He also complained he had, had clashes with Howard, the officer who was wounded on March 22, 2011, when he was being held in jail on the then-pending armed robbery charge.

“It’s all about revenge. I’m not trying to run. I’m not asking for no plea bargain. It’s not about me. It’s about prejudice. It’s got to stop,” Hood said.

Hood also ranted about his trouble finding a job after he was released from prison in 2009.

“I couldn’t get a job so I started dealing drugs… (You) get out (of prison) and can’t find a job. If a man’s willing to work, why not let him?” Hood said.

Mauldin began his opening statement by mimicking Hood’s own words when he was taken in to custody.

“‘What ever I get I deserve. I can’t blame nobody.’ Those are the words of the defendant Jamie Donnell Hood, spoke just hours after his surrender in March 2011,” Mauldin said.

But that has changed, the DA said.

“This trial will be about blaming everyone else except one person,” Mauldin said.

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.