A courtroom drama continues today in Troup County Superior Court during the murder trial of Thomas E. Sessions, 55, of LaGrange.
Closing arguments are expected today and a verdict could be rendered as early as this afternoon. If convicted, Sessions could face life imprisonment.
Sessions was indicted by a grand jury last November for the Aug. 9, 2013, murder of 21-year-old Douglas Cameron — a murder prosecutors said happened in “cold blood,” but the defense claims was in self defense.
Jurors on Tuesday saw chaotic dash-cam video from the first police cruiser to arrive on scene the night of the shooting. They also saw the actual murder weapon and videotaped statements that witnesses made to police in the days after the shooting. Photographic evidence was also entered into the record.
The trial began Monday with jury selection and pretrial motions, and spilled over to Tuesday when attorneys from both sides presented their opening statements to jurors, questioned witnesses and presented evidence.
In court Tuesday, Chief Assistant District Attorney Monique Kirby characterize Sessions as a quick-tempered killer who shot his victim in the back after a dispute about an unpaid debt and a drug deal. Sessions’ court-appointed attorney, Jamie Roberts, countered that the victim threatened Sessions and his family with extreme violence, and Sessions shot Cameron because he feared for his life.
Sessions does not deny shooting Cameron, and the defense is seeking a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter.
One witness testified that she saw Sessions and Cameron in the hallway of a Brown Street home the evening of Aug. 9, 2013, calmly discussing an issue related to an unpaid debt. She said she never heard any threats, saw no violence and did not see any weapons on either man.
“The way they were talking, you’d never know this (the murder) was going to happen,” she told the jury.
A second witness said she saw the same exchange in the house, and also said Cameron and Sessions had a calm discussion. Later, she said she saw Cameron and a companion, who was also called as a witness, sitting outside an adjacent vacant house next door on Brown Street.
She told the jury she’d stepped outside because it was hot inside the home, and that’s when she saw Sessions approach Cameron with a shotgun. Cameron tried to run, and that’s when Sessions fired a shell into Cameron’s lower back, she said.
The third witness to testify, Cameron’s now 24-year-old companion that evening, testified that the two were on Brown Street for the purpose of selling cocaine. He said they arrived around 2 or 3 a.m. to the home in which Sessions and Cameron spoke. Sessions wanted to buy more cocaine from Cameron, but Cameron refused to sell him any more because of a previously unpaid debt, the witness said. He also said he did not see any weapon on Cameron, nor did he see any threats of violence from Cameron toward Sessions. At the end of the conversation, the Sessions and Cameron parted ways, he told jurors. That’s when Cameron and he left the home and went next door to sit outside the vacant house.
Shortly thereafter, the two saw Sessions approaching with the shotgun and ran, the witness said. The witness hid in a bush until police arrived, according to his testimony.
The prosecution spared no witness in showing the jury that the investigation was properly conducted. Several law enforcement officers testified that the crime scene was immediately secured to preserve evidence — testimony collaborated with dash-cam video showing officers unfurling yellow crime scene tape shorting after arriving on scene.
Marshall McCoy, a sergeant with LaGrange Police Criminal Investigations Unit, testified that he found the murder weapon in an empty lot close to where the shooting occurred. He told jurors that the gun was found with one spent shell and it looked to have been recently ditched in the lot.
Jeremy Jones, an LPD detective, also testified that DNA on the shotgun matched known samples from Sessions. Sessions fingerprints were also found on the murder weapon and a gun-residue test of Sessions hands turned up positive.
A medical examiner is expected to testify today in court, and the prosecution may rest after that testimony. If that occurs, and the defense also rests, the jury will be sent to deliberations to reach a verdict.
Check LaGrange Daily News online and in print for breaking news as this and other stories develop.