Feb 18, 2010

 Constance Franklin, the mother of Jasmine Lynn, listens to opening statements in the  trial of Devonni Manuel Benton, accused of killing her daughter.
Via AJC:

On the first day of his murder trial, Devonni Manuel Benton was directly pointed out as the man who shot and killed Spelman College sophomore Jasmine Lynn on Sept. 3.

On Sept. 31, less than a month after Lynn's shooting death, Atlanta Metropolitan College student Brandon Hall picked Benton's face out of a lineup of photos, a Fulton County prosecutor told the jury Wednesday afternoon.

"Mr. Hall, do you see the person in this room you identified on that day?" assistant district attorney Eleanor Ross asked Hall.

Standing, Hall pointed across the courtroom at Benton, who was seated in a pinstriped suit at the defendant's table.

"Yes, ma'am. He's sitting in the navy blue suit," Hall said.

Lynn's father seemed somewhat relieved by what Hall told the jury, noting the varied stories from the parade of witnesses presented by the prosecution.

"You sure can't beat someone saying, 'I looked the shooter right in the face, and that's him, right there,'" Clint Ronald Lynn told the AJC when court adjourned Wednesday evening.

Hall's statement accompanied the introduction of a witness Benton's defense attorney Jackie Patterson had previously pegged as the "real shooter" and an abrupt admission by Patterson at the end of the day.

"The prints were all over the bag," he said of the tan and red book bag police entered as evidence, interrupting testimony from a crime scene investigator with a bench meeting, then his proclamation. "It was Devonni's bag."

And there became somewhat of a sparring match when Ross called to the stand Clarence Carter, Benton's friend who Patterson has said admitted to the shooting.

To Ross, Carter denied ever having a gun, let alone firing one on Clark Atlanta's campus.

But Patterson launched into a debate over evident false statements Carter told police following the shooting.

"All you told them was that you knew [Devonni], and that you didn't go to Clark Atlanta" on that night, Patterson said. "And that was an outright lie, wasn't it?"

Carter admitted to the lie, saying in the initial police interview that he didn't want his girlfriend to know he was at the campus to try to talk to other women.

Patterson continued to attack inconsistencies in Carter's story, however, such as pointing to cellphone records showing the two-hour call Carter made to his girlfriend just after 1:30 the morning of the shooting, after telling the jury he left campus and went directly to her house.

"You couldn't have talked to her for two hours if you went straight to her house," Patterson said.

Other witnesses provided varied accounts of what happened that night, and in some cases, differing descriptions of the gunman.


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