0

Juvenile murder trial starts

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Edward "Boo Man" Mills was shot in the back, according to the medical examiner.

The bullet hit him in the back, on his left side, and struck a rib. The bullet broke the rib, then hit his left lung, deflating it, and tore through his 17-year-old heart.

He died on the ground in the breezeway of building M, at Williamsburg South Apartments in Jonesboro.

When Mills was wheeled into the medical examiner's office at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Decatur, the dead teen had a hole in his back and an exit wound in the middle of his chest. The medical examiner, forensic pathologist Jonathan Eisenstate, testified Tuesday morning in the trial of Jeffrey Winslow.

Winslow is the 17-year-old who allegedly murdered Mills in an argument over marijuana and money.

Eisenstate was the first witness for the prosecution. The murder trial is the county's first one in juvenile court. Juveniles charged with murder are automatically treated as adults, under Georgia law, but Winslow wasn't indicted within 180 days, and the case was returned to juvenile court.

The missed deadline reduces the maximum possible sentence for murder from life in prison to four years in detention, if Winslow is convicted. The change of courts also means he isn't being tried by a jury, but by a judge.

In Steven C. Teske's courtroom on the third floor of the old courthouse annex building, the lack of a jury meant the courtroom was mostly empty as the trial began, and the prosecutor and defense attorney avoided any theatrics.

The autopsy photos weren't displayed, since there were no jurors to be shocked by death, and neither attorney bothered with opening arguments, dispensing with any rhetorical attacks, and going straight to the evidence.

The medical examiner was followed on the witness stand by Clayton County Police Department Officer Michael Bryson, who first responded to the scene, on a Sunday afternoon in October 2007.

"It was a person shot call," Bryson said. "The victim was face-down. Motionless. I attempted to make contact -- I got down and talked to him -- but he was unresponsive."

The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Chris Montgomery, then called a series of teens from the Flint River Road area, teens who knew Mills, or Winslow, and were with one or the other on the day of the shooting.

Tiarrous Simon,18, said she saw Mills walk behind a building to sell $10 of marijuana, heard three or four shots, and saw someone running away.

"I didn't witness the shooting," she said. "I didn't see that part ... Somebody said, 'That boy just shot that boy,' and there was somebody running."

Police do not believe anybody actually witnessed the shooting, but think the evidence against Winslow is solid and substantial. The evidence includes an admission he made to detectives, and witnesses who say they saw him before and after the shooting.

Eugene Gleaton, who described himself as a friend, said he picked up the 17-year-old in a car, immediately after the shooting.

"Explain what happened [and] why you picked up Jeffrey Winslow," the prosecutor prompted.

"He said, the weed man shorted us on the weed, so he shot him," Gleaton said.

The prosecution expects to close its case on Wednesday afternoon, with the homicide detective "tying everything together," Montgomery said.

The defense, led by attorney Leon Hicks, will then counter. On Tuesday, Hicks was questioning the validity of the witnesses' statements, finding contradictions, changed statements and inconsistencies.

As of Tuesday evening, though, he had not quite made a clear counter argument. Defenses mentioned, before the trial, have included an alibi for Winslow, a self-defense argument, and a theory about an alternative shooter.

Hicks is scheduled to present his case on Wednesday afternoon.