Day 2: Man claims self-defense in Tifton murder trial

Day 2: Man claims self-defense in Tifton murder trial
Jerome Jackson faces four charges including malice and felony murder, before Judge William Reinhardt (WALB image)

TIFTON, GA (WALB) -Answers to a three-year-old Tifton murder case may be finally coming to light.

Opening statements began in a 2016 murder trial on Tuesday morning, as Jerome Jackson faces four charges, including malice and felony murder.

He is accused of stabbing Odell Chaney 13 times with a knife, that ultimately lead to his death moments later.

Jerome James Jackson (Source: Tift Co. Sheriff)
Jerome James Jackson (Source: Tift Co. Sheriff)

Both the defense and state opened with their sides to what happened on Wilson Street back on November 4, 2016.

The state believes Jackson had intent to kill both Chaney and his ex-girlfriend inside.

“The defendant broke in the door, busted it off the hinges and he went inside, and he proceeded to stab Odell Chaney, who was about 53 years old at the time, to death,” Robert Rogers, assistant district attorney, said.

The state and defense agree that a complex “love triangle” is what ultimately lead to Chaney’s death/

Where they differ is on the intent, and why Jackson knocked down a front door and entered the home.

“And he wouldn’t turn me loose, ‘oh yeah, he bit my ear so I had to stab him 13 times, over 13 times to get him off of me.’ So it’s pretty hard to claim self-defense when you’re the one who violently made your way in by beating the door in,” Rogers said.

Rogers argued Jackson was there to kill Chaney with a knife, and actually also lost part of his own ear during the altercation.

However, the defense claimed once Jackson was in the home, he was defending himself against Chaney.

Jackson is claiming self-defense, and said that Chaney attacked him and bit his ear.

H. Burton Baker is Jackson’s attorney and says “It is not disputed that my client stabbed Odell Chaney to death," H. Burton Baker, Jackson’s attorney, said. "Question you have to answer is was he justified in the killing, protecting his ear and body, his person when he did so?”

Jackson said he went to the home on Wilson street to confront his former girlfriend.

When Jackson, arrived he saw his ex-girlfriend and Chaney together.

That’s when Chaney attacked Jackson, Baker said.

“He did not have the intent to kill Odell Chaney," Jackson’s attorney added. "Odell jumped on his back and bit his ear off and that is when he stabbed Odell Chaney.”

According to Baker, Jackson’s name was on the lease of that home and he had legal rights to be there.

WALB has also learned Chaney and Jackson were related by marriage.

The courtroom heard from witnesses including GBI crime unit staff, a 911 operator and the Tift County Sheriff’s Office Sargent who was first on the scene. He described how he found Chaney.

“He did appear to be deceased," Sgt. Mark Guess, with the Tift County Sheriff’s Office, said. "He had blood on him; he was not breathing.”

Rogers said he believes the jury will have a verdict by Thursday or Friday.

More witnesses will testify Wednesday starting at 9 a.m.

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