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Murder trial thrown out

By Ed Brock

The trial of a man accused in the July 2000 shooting of a Riverdale business owner ended unexpectedly Wednesday in a mistrial.

Meanwhile closing arguments are expected to be heard in another murder trial this morning.

Marcus Shaw walked out of court a free man, at least for now, after a witness in his murder trial asserted on the stand that he was 100 percent certain about his identification of Shaw as the suspect in the case.

The court apparently interpreted the witness' statements as violating case law, but the Clayton County District Attorney's Office disputes that and says they will retry the case.

Shaw was accused of being one of three men who walked into Alfred Smith Sr.'s automotive garage on Ga. Highway 85 and shooting him down. Smith's son Alfred Smith Jr. was in the store on that day and testified that he saw a man with gold teeth walk in to see his father in a back office. Then he heard a gunshot and saw a bullet come through a door so he ran outside.

Outside a second man pointed a gun in his face and told Smith to go back inside, but when the man with gold teeth emerged from the shop both men then got into a car and drove off.

Shaw was supposed to be the third man seen coming from the garage carrying a computer and Alfred Smith Jr. was the witness who said he was 100 percent sure of Shaw's identity.

One of Shaw's attorney's Barbara Moon said that in her opening statement she had pointed to the fact that the younger Smith had twice failed to identify a suspect in interviews following the shooting and only made the identification of Shaw after investigators coached him. She said Judge Stephen Boswell had ruled on Monday that witnesses could not be allowed to say they were 100 percent certain of their identification of Shaw.

Senior Assistant District Attorney said there is case law that prohibits judges from charging a jury on how certain a witness is in their statements.

“It's still an open question as to whether or not a witness can say that (they are 100 percent sure),” Naugle said.

Naugle said they would seek a retrial but could not say when that will happen.

The shooting is believed to be connected to a drug deal.

In another courtroom testimony wrapped up in the murder trial of 20-year-old Frederick Johnson accused of shaking to death 20-month old Jeannettea Adams.

Kimberly Denise Adams, Jeannettea's mother, finished her testimony Wednesday and as did several witnesses for the defense.

On July 3, 2003 Adams told police that she had brought the baby to the Jacuzzi in her apartment complex in Morrow around 3 a.m. Adams initially told police that Jeannettea had begun swallowing water in the tub and that she had dropped the baby after getting out of the tub, after which she brought the child back to the apartment where Jeannettea died.

However an autopsy later showed that Jeannettea died from “shaken baby syndrome.” Retired Clayton County Police Detective Rick Barnes testified that Johnson had been with the children all day while Adams was at work but initially denied spanking or hitting them too hard.

Later Johnson changed his statement and said that during the day he got angry with Jeannettea after she wet her pants.

“He said I shook her but I didn't think I shook her that hard,” Barnes said. “He said he didn't think he'd shaken her hard enough to hurt her.”

Closing arguments in that case are set for this morning.