Jury in double-carjacking trial fails to reach verdict

After more than three hours’ deliberation Friday, jurors in the double carjacking trial of Joshua Dodson and Dearius Ransom were unable to reach a verdict.

Judge Art Smith III dismissed them for the weekend and asked that they return Monday at 9 a.m. to continue their discussion.

After attorneys’ closing arguments Friday morning, the jury retired to deliberate about 2 p.m., and ended around 5:15 p.m. At one point they sent Smith a note saying one juror did not agree with the rest.

Defense attorneys Friday morning emphasized the differing stories witnesses first told police after the June 28, 2012, carjackings as compared to their court testimony.

One victim told police the man who robbed her of her Chevrolet Impala shortly after midnight at the Pure service station on Fort Benning Road had shoulder-length dreadlocks, which neither Dodson nor Ransom had at the time.

Another picked Ransom’s picture from a photo lineup but not Dodson’s, yet in court he said he recognized Dodson as the gunman who robbed him of his Ford Crown Victoria on St. Mary’s Road.

Police said that robbery happened about 8 p.m. the same day.

Defense attorney Will Kirby, who represents Ransom, pointed out the two witnesses to the St. Mary’s Road holdup reportedly were boyfriend and girlfriend, but the man said they’d broke up and the woman said they had not.

“These two individuals couldn’t even agree on whether they were dating or not,” Kirby said.

He also noted that the girlfriend testified two other women were with her when the robbery happened, but police had no record of having questioned those witnesses, and they were not called to court to testify.

“There’s been no explanation for that,” Kirby said, of one witness adding, “We don’t know what that witness would say. That’s a problem. You don’t have all the evidence.”

Prosecutor Wesley Lambertus countered that the evidence presented was sufficient to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“We don’t have to prove the case beyond all doubt,” he told the jury. “Beyond a reasonable doubt is not a mathematical certainty.”

He noted the girlfriend’s certainty that she recognized Ransom and Dodson because she had seen them together three years earlier. She knew Ransom by the nickname “Tago,” and the day of the robbery noticed the moneybag tattoo that’s just below his right eye.

“It’s a unique tattoo on a unique part of the body,” Lambertus stressed.

And though neither defendant had shoulder-length dreadlocks, in 2012 they both wore their hair in “twists,” or woven strands shorter than dreadlocks, and the witness easily could have misjudged the length.

Dodson, 24, and Ransom, 23, face two counts each of armed robbery, hijacking a motor vehicle, using a firearm to commit a crime and obstructing police.The obstruction charge stems from their fleeing officers before their arrests on July 2, 2012.