ALBANY, Ga. -- Jury trials are really he-said, she-said exercises supported by testimony and evidence. Both the defense and prosecution have their separate versions of the truth.
Defense attorney Jim Finkelstein plans to bring his oral arguments to the Georgia Supreme Court on Oct. 1 on behalf of his client, Tchywaskie Lamar Jones. Jones is in Hays State Prison on street gang terrorism and aggravated assault charges stemming from a June 16, 2009 shooting at Albany's Carver Pool.
According to a court brief filed by Finkelstein, "The salient fact of a trial in which appellant Tchywaskie Jones was charged with street gang terrorism for allegedly shooting Donald Winchester was this: In more than 2,000 pages of trial transcript, after calling 22 witnesses, in a trial spanning more than three weeks on the calendar, the State put up no evidence."
The brief goes on to add there was no evidence that Jones was in a gang, associated with a gang, shot Winchester or was connected to the man who shot Winchester.
"The defense contends that neither the words 'gang' nor 'Southside Bloods' were ever mentioned by any witness during the entire trial in connection with Mr. Jones," Finkelstein said in an email.
Finkelstein also accused the prosecution of fabricating evidence of Jones' involvement in a gang fight at Henderson Gym in 2008.
Jones was shot, but Finkelstein said his client was there shooting hoops.
The Dougherty County District Attorney's Office plans to oppose Finkelstein's appeal. District Attorney Gregory Edwards and Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Breedon plan to handle the case.
After three weeks of listening to testimony, viewing exhibits and deliberating, a jury of 12 people found Jones guilty.
The jury's verdict says Jones was in a gang, there was a fight between gangs and in the course of that gang fight, Winchester was shot, Breedon said.
Under Georgia law, according to the prosecution reply to the appeal, unlike in a jury trial the weight of proof in an appeal belongs to the defendant. The reply also states that evidence that the jury clearly believed concretely showed at the trial only Jerry Harris and Jones fired shots in the melee.
Harris shot Winchester, who was behind Jones. But it didn't matter who shot Winchester, according to the reply.
"(E)very person concerned in the commission of a crime is party thereto and may be charged with and convicted of commission of the crime," the document states
In the exchange between the written appeals and replies and in conversations, Finkelstein has said that the prosecution lied in a courtroom atmosphere hostile to his client. The prosecution has called Finkelstein's appeal incorrect and without support.
Judge Willie Lockette on July 12, 2010 sentenced Jones to 20 years, with the first 10 in prison for aggravated assault, and 15 years, with the first five in prison for street gang terrorism.