ALBANY — Jurors in a Dougherty County murder trial don’t have a mystery to solve in terms of who committed an Aug. 21, 2019, slaying in downtown Albany.
They saw vivid evidence in the form of a video showing businessman Jazzy Jarrell Huff firing seven gunshots at close range at Zenas Lee Davis, who collapsed and died at the scene.
A possible issue for the jury will be whether it was murder or self-defense.
Huff’s attorney, Phil Cannon, told jurors that his client thought a yellow cigarette lighter in Davis’ hand was a boxcutter that resembled an item used by Jazzy Movers’ employees.
Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said that story doesn’t hold up because Huff never mentioned a boxcutter during his interviews with police.
The two attorneys gave their versions of the encounter on Wednesday as they made final arguments in Huff’s murder trial.
Huff, 27, and 38-year-old Davis argued prior to the fatal shooting over Davis’ pay.
The employee was struck by seven bullets, including a shot to the chest, at about 1:10 p.m. that day in an office at the 125 Pine Ave. building.
Huff was indicted on one count each of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Cannon presented photos of a yellow plastic boxcutter with black at both ends and a yellow plastic lighter with black at the top as the final piece of evidence for the defense. An employee who worked at the moving company at the time testified that she saw boxcutters at the office from time to time and that some looked like the one in the photo.
However, the person who filmed the argument and shooting testified he did not see a boxcutter in the office that day, according to prosecutors.
In video played for jurors, Huff is seen walking out of one room, with Davis behind him. Huff goes to the right and as Davis walks by him Huff pulls a pistol and chambers a bullet, at which time Davis is seen looking into the camera and exclaiming several times: “Did he really pull a gun on me?”
Cannon pointed to a remark Davis made: “What if I take a swing at you?”
That, Cannon said, turned what had been a verbal confrontation into a potential physical one.
“That is when it changed,” he said. “(He) acted differently than before and continued to get closer and closer even after the gun was displayed.”
Huff continued to back away, which he is not required to do under Georgia law, Cannon said.
“It is incontrovertible the blade in a box cutter is capable of causing great bodily harm,” he said. “Even after he (Huff) pulls out a gun and says: ‘Let’s go, I’m done,’ even then he backs up again,” Cannon said. “Where is Jazzy Huff supposed to go? What is Jazzy Huff supposed to do? He (Davis) was holding an object in his hand that any reasonable person could believe is a boxcutter.”
Edwards countered that it was obvious Davis was holding a cigar and cigarette lighter.
“That’s what he had in his hand, a Black & Mild cigar and a cigarette lighter,” he said.
The district attorney also pointed to Huff’s testimony on the stand, which he said was detailed and appeared well-rehearsed, and his inability to answer questions during cross examination, citing that he did not recall or forgot.
“This boxcutter thing is a post development,” Edwards said. “This story doesn’t make sense.”
Edwards also pointed to Huff not mentioning being afraid for his life due to Davis having a boxcutter when he talked with police.
“He failed to say he thought a weapon was being pulled on me,” the district attorney said. “He did not do that, because it’s not true.”
The closing arguments extended into mid-afternoon on Wednesday. At the conclusion of the statements, Superior Court Judge Denise Marshall was to give jurors instructions on applicable law relating to the charges in preparation for their beginning deliberations in the case.