Originally created 12/16/03

Pair's defense doubts witness's credibility



The death of Marcus D. Taylor in a busy convenience store parking lot was a public execution, a prosecutor told jurors Monday.

Lorenzo D. Lindsey paid John V. Lawton to kill the 28-year-old victim to send out the word that no one else should ever testify against Mr. Lindsey again, Assistant District Attorney Michael Carlson said.

"Lawton didn't just shoot one time and run," the prosecutor said.

Mr. Lawton fired a shot into Mr. Taylor's head and then stood over the man and fired several more times, Mr. Carlson said.

The prosecutor told the jury that Mr. Lindsey wanted Mr. Taylor dead because he had testified against Mr. Lindsey in a 1997 murder trial. Before he found Mr. Lawton, Mr. Lindsey asked another man to kill Mr. Taylor, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Lindsey, 25, and Mr. Lawton, 34, have pleaded innocent to charges of murder. Their joint Richmond County Superior Court trial began Monday and continues today with testimony.

On Monday, their defense attorneys told the jury in opening statements that the state's star witness, Charles Hankerson, is a convicted felon also charged in Mr. Taylor's slaying. But instead of facing a life sentence without parole for murder, Mr. Hankerson got three years in prison for solicitation.

It's Mr. Hankerson's picture in a videotaped surveillance tape, Mr. Lawton's attorney, Michael Garrett, told the jury. It was Mr. Hankerson who lay a hand on Mr. Taylor's shoulder just moments before the man was shot dead in the Citgo parking lot at 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

One of the witnesses that night identified the shooter as William R. Abrams, Mr. Garrett said. Mr. Abrams was also indicted in Mr. Taylor's slaying, but those charges were dropped.

Mr. Lindsey's attorney, Jack E. Boone Jr., told the jury that the son of the state's star witness is willing to testify that Mr. Hankerson told him he could not do life without parole and would do whatever it took to escape such a prison sentence.

Another prosecution witness, Corey Bailey, shares almost as much credibility for being in jail and hearing other inmates confess to murder in two separate homicide cases, Mr. Boone said.

Mr. Lindsey was convicted of murder along with Terry Holmes and Theodore Allen, and each was sentenced to life in prison for the July 11, 1997, drive-by shooting that killed 83-year-old Rosa Lee Barnes. Mr. Lindsey's conviction was reversed when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that improper testimony had been presented against him at trial. He was acquitted of murder in March 2000.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.