On Wednesday, Hinds County Circuit Judge Faye Peterson adjourned court a little early to consider the request of attorneys for a directed verdict in the case of former JPD officers Desmond Barney and Lincoln Lampley.
The two are currently on trial, facing second degree murder charges in the death of George Robinson in January 2019.
Attorneys Paul Luckett and Christian Medina told Circuit Court Judge Faye Peterson that none of the witnesses had placed Barney or Lampley in a position of being in direct contact with Robinson, except FBI Special Agent Roland Smith, who had not been at the scene.
Medina, Lampley’s attorney, pointed out that the prosecution had not proven that Lampley was acting without the authority of law when they assisted in the arrest of George Robinson. Simply because they were there, the attorneys argued, they can’t be held guilty by association.
Medina and Luckett argued in the request for the directed verdict that the medical evidence had not proven differing witness accounts that Robinson had been slammed or kicked or punched by either officer. In addition, the defense brought up multiple times that on Tuesday, one of the witnesses had identified Assistant District Attorney David Linzey as the police officer he allegedly saw attack Robinson.
The testimony, said the defense, has been contradictory, and therefore there is reasonable doubt to hold Lampley and Barney guilty.
The prosecution argued that Barney and Lampley were on the scene by their own admission. Linzey said he planned to show evidence that Lampley was involved in assaulting Robinson. He argued that Deputy Chief Deric Hearn had said the two defendants were involved in the incident, and there were only three officers involved in it, so they must have been involved.
The only injuries Robinson sustained, Linzey argued, were inflicted during the removal of Robinson from his car. If Robinson died of those injuries, he said, the officers were responsible.
“We don’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, we only have to show evidence, and that evidence is that George Robinson sustained a subdural hematoma and that’s what killed him,” Linzey said.
Medina argued that two witnesses placed at least five officers there. The witnesses, he said, also had problems identifying the officers.
“The burden of proof is on them, not on us, and it is not on Mr. Lampley to prove his innocence,” he said.
Peterson said the court wouldn’t issue a ruling this afternoon in order so that she could review some authority on where we are at this point on some of the elements of the indictment.
The jury was called in and excused for the remainder of the day while Peterson could do that review.
Barney and Lampley are accused of allegedly beating the 63-year-old Robinson to death along with narcotics officer Anthony Fox after Fox saw him involved in what appeared to be a drug deal.
The prosecution says Robinson was slammed to the ground and kicked and punched. Medical witnesses testimonies were across the board on those conclusions, though the subdural hematoma does appear to be the cause of death, they said.
Hearn testified that the officers said they saw Robinson reach for something, and they struggled with him to keep him from putting it in his mouth.
Witness testimony states that Robinson left the scene of the incident and went to meet his girlfriend at the Mustang Motel. She testified that he did complain of a headache and some other aches and pains, and stated that Robinson told her, “JPD beat me up.”
Also at play is the question of whether the officers were acting within the commission of the law when they pulled Robinson from his car.