Jamie Hood (Clarke County Jail)

Admitted cop killer Jamie Hood begins his defense in Athens

Hood is representing himself even though he could be sentenced to death if he is convicted of murder. This is the first time in Georgia an accused killer facing the death penalty has served as his own lawyer, something that has only happened rarely nationwide, according to experts.

Hood started out Monday, struggling with the most basic function of a defense attorney, swearing in his witness.

“Just raise your right hand…and tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help you God in this matter, sir?” Hood said to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent called first.

District Attorney Ken Mauldin questioned whether that was a proper oath.

So a lawyer serving as stand-by counsel wrote down what Hood was to say. “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you give to the court and the jury on the matter currently pending before the court will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

This death penalty trial is unlike any other.

In his questions, Hood refers to himself in the third person. He accused the retired Athens-Clarke County police chief, Joseph H. Lumpkin Sr. of incompetence when he could not quote the department’s policies or when he said his duties did not involve operating cameras installed in police cars.

One of his first questions for Lumpkin, now chief of the Savannah-Chatham County Police Department, was, “do you have any skeletons in your closet you want to be brought to light?”

Hood called the step-mother and wife of Tony Howard, the officer he wounded March 22, 2011.

Hood shot Tony Howard just moments before he shot and killed officer Elmer “Buddy” Christian. They were on the lookout for Hood for allegedly kidnapping a friend.

Hood has said several times he did not intend to kill Christian. His defense is he shot Howard because he was afraid the officer would kill him. Hood said Howard had been out to get him since 1998, when Hood was in jail on an armed robbery charge and Howard was a deputy working at the Clarke County Jail.

Hood is charged with 70 felonies, including murdering Christian and a boyhood friend, Omar Wray, on Dec. 28, 2010, because Wray would not tell him where to find a certain drug dealer.

Hood allegedly kidnapped another friend, putting him in the trunk of his car, on March 22, 2011, when he also would not tell Hood where to find the drug dealer. Judon Brooks escaped from the trunk and called police.

Moments later Hood, allegedly shot Howard and then Christian.

Hood, who was holding several people hostage, surrendered four days later only after getting assurances it would be covered live on television.

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.