The eight women and six men, including two alternates, who make up the jury stayed at the Carroll County Courthouse from 10 a.m. until after midnight on Friday, hearing the case of Evan Donard Winston.
Winston, 22, stands accused of fatally shooting 21-year-old Kevin Woods in September 2011.
After hearing closing arguments from the attorneys and being instructed on the laws to apply by Blackmon, the jury retired to the jury room at about 11:30 p.m. before leaving shortly after midnight.
The defendant testified Friday, saying he was not responsible for Woods’ death.
“I’m sorry for what happened, but it’s not me,” said Winston, who is from Lithonia. “I didn’t do this.”
Winston said he, Roudolphe “Rudy” Germain Jr. and Javier Cook had gone to Chateau Apartments on Hay’s Mill Road in Carrollton that Friday for a Labor Day weekend cookout. At the cookout, he had planned to meet with Egim Chris Etta-Tawo, Woods and the deceased’s brother, Branden Woods, to purchase marijuana.
The defendant testified that he was sitting in the car with Etta-Tawo and the Woods brothers when an altercation began over the price and quality of the weed.
Winston said that at one point during the argument, Branden Woods, who was seated in the front passenger seat, took out a gun and aimed it at him.
At that, Winston grabbed the .38 special revolver he’d had on his hip, which he said he’d brought to the cookout because he was going out of town for several days afterward.
Upon seeing Winston’s gun, Etta-Tawo grabbed the defendant’s arm and jerked, causing him to fire one round through the rear passenger door.
Winston testified that he heard more shots but did not know who was shooting. His friend who had followed him to the car, Germain, was out of his line of vision — presumably somewhere behind him.
Throughout the trial, Winston’s legal counsel, Atlanta attorney Mawuli Davis and his Carrollton associate, Suellen Fleming, attempted to establish for the jury that Germain had fired the fatal shots at the driver, Kevin Woods, through Winston’s open door.
Germain pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December, receiving 15 years in jail.
Winston faces two murder counts, as well as aggravated assault and possession of a firearm.
According to Inv. Chad Taylor, it is currently the belief of police that Egim Chris Etta-Tawo had set up a marijuana deal between the victim and Winston and Germain, which ended with Woods’ death. Winston and Germain reportedly drove off in a 1999 Toyota Camry.
Etta-Tawo was originally indicted, along with Winston and Germain, for the murder, but is expected to have that murder charge dismissed in consideration of his testimony in the trial, which was heard Wednesday.
In his opening statement, Davis said that Germain had been in possession of a 9mm pistol and that Woods was killed from a 9mm gunshot wound.
The jury is scheduled to return at 9 a.m. Tuesday to deliberate more and perhaps return a verdict.