Three-day motions hearing in Heath Jackson capital case now set for one day: Friday

Attorneys mum on reasons for rescheduling

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMay 20, 2013 

Another round of pre-trial hearings on multiple defense motions was to begin Monday in Columbus’ death-penalty murder case against Ricardo Strozier, the alleged burglar accused of killing disc jockey David Heath Jackson on Sept. 7, 2010.

But instead of again holding days of hearings as he has twice this year, Superior Court Judge Gil McBride has set just one court session for Strozier this week, and it will be 9 a.m. Friday, right before the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

The reason for that rescheduling is unclear: Julia Slater, the district attorney for the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit that includes Muscogee, would say only that McBride rescheduled the hearing.

Neither she nor defense attorney H. Burton Baker of the Georgia capital defenders office in Tifton would comment on whether plea negotiations are under way.

This was to be the third round of three-day hearings on more than 100 defense motions filed in the case, the first homicide in which Slater has chosen to seek the death penalty since she took office in 2009.

Hearings on pretrial motions previously were held Jan. 28-30 and Feb. 20-22.

Strozier faces multiple felony counts not only in Jackson’s homicide but in burglaries leading up to it. Investigators have said Strozier broke in through the west-side basement door of Jackson’s 1667 Carter Ave. home and was inside when Jackson arrived around 12:45 p.m. that Tuesday after Labor Day.

Coworkers said Jackson, 25, had just worked the 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on-air stint at the contemporary Christian station The Truth, where he typically put in two more hours of production time before heading home for lunch.

Inside the house, Jackson surprised Strozier, who shot Jackson twice from behind before the DJ ran outside and died in the driveway, detectives said.

Strozier’s indictment charges him with malice murder, alleging he intentionally shot Jackson “with malice aforethought,” felony murder for committing the felony of burglary during the homicide, burglary for breaking in, armed robbery for taking Jackson’s wallet at gunpoint, aggravated battery for “disfiguring” Jackson by shooting him, and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony, for having a gun during a burglary.

Strozier also is charged with burglary, armed robbery and using a firearm to commit a felony for breaking into a home in the 4200 block of 15th Avenue on Aug. 6, 2010, where he robbed the resident who arrived home while Strozier was inside, investigators said.

Strozier faces a third count of burglary for an Aug. 11, 2010, break-in on Virginia Street, where he stole the .38-caliber handgun with which he later shot Jackson, police said.

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