Day 1 of Trial for Charlottesville Man Accused of Murdering Neighbor
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A multi-day trial is underway for a Charlottesville man accused of killing his neighbor.
Gerald Francis Jackson is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 55-year-old Richard Wayne Edwards. Jury selection in the case began in Charlottesville Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. Monday, August 5.
The 61-year-old defendant has entered a plea of not guilty.
Attorneys on both sides questioned a pool of 48 potential jurors for about an hour Monday before selecting seven men and five women.
Edwards' body was found in the kitchen of his Cherry Street apartment in the early hours of January 10, 2019. Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Joseph Platania revealed during opening statements Monday that the victim had been stabbed in the throat with a Phillips screwdriver, causing a fatal blow to the jugular.
Platania said Jackson had been drinking with Edwards, but the defendant blamed the killing on a possible drug dealer. Jackson told investigators that he had gone to Lucky 7 to buy beer, drank it with another friend at an undisclosed location, and then returned to Cherry St. apartments to find Edwards dead.
Police found the murder weapon - still covered in blood- in the back yard of the home.
Jackson was arrested five days later, and has been held without bond at Albemarle County Regional Jail.
Defense attorney Chris Graham claims Jackson and Edwards were friends, and pointed to a lack of motive in the case.
However, an officer told the jury that Jackson threatened police shortly after they arrived at the crime scene saying, "Arrest me and I'll kill you, too." Jackson then quickly back peddled on that statement.
A second officer testified that a search of Edwards’ apartment did not yield any drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Also, a state DNA analyst testified both Edwards' and Jackson's blood was found on the defendant’s right wrist.
Graham pointed out prosecutors never ran the screwdriver for any fingerprints.
Court wrapped up for the day around 3:45 p.m., though prosecutors will continue presenting their care at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, August 6. The trial is scheduled to last a total of three days.