Six witnesses were called to testify Monday on the first day of trial for a man who is accused of killing his mother March 1, 2014.
Jamal S. Mounts, 34, faces charges of murder, attempted murder, first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and resisting arrest in the death of his mother Roxie Mounts and the attack of her neighbor Marvelyn Spray.
The day started with jurors hearing testimony from 63-year-old John Mounts, the stepson of 65-year-old Roxie Mounts who lived with her at Mason's Pointe Apartments on North Elm Street where she was found dead in the breezeway.
John Mounts said it wasn't uncommon for Jamal Mounts, who was living in Evansville at the time, to stop by when he was in town.
That day, however, John Mounts said he heard Jamal Mounts scream at sometime around 6 p.m. The two had an awkward encounter in the doorway of John Mounts' room, and shortly after, Jamal Mounts came out completely naked and sat in the living room of the apartment.
"It took me by surprise," John Mounts said. "We don't even sit at the table without a shirt on to eat. It's a rule."
Roxie Mounts got up and to walk out of the room, and that's when Jamal Mounts knocked her on the floor, John Mounts recalled.
"I yelled at him to back off, and he wouldn't do it," John said. "I pushed him off of her twice and then he pinned me down outside."
As the two men scuffled into the breezeway, a man heard the commotion from his apartment across the fence at Slate Run Apartments.
Lucas Back was also called to the stand by the prosecution to tell what he saw and heard that night.
"I heard someone screaming for help," Back told the jurors. "At first, I ran to the fence and started screaming and hollering for the dude to get off the other dude, and finally he got up and looked at me. I went back inside to get my shoes on and tried to jump the fence, but I didn't make it so I went around."
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By the time he got around to the breezeway, Back said he saw Jamal Mounts "hammering Mrs. Mounts in the head."
With only a mini baseball bat in hand, Back called 911 and the dispatcher told him to wait for officers to arrive.
The third witness and victim, Marvelyn Spray, was called to testify next.
Spray opened her apartment door that evening after hearing the commotion in the breezeway. Spray remembered seeing Jamal on top of "Johnny." Spray said she had never met Jamal, and he wasn't saying anything during the altercation.
"Roxie was standing kind of behind them and her mouth was bleeding," Spray recalled. "She said 'Get me a tissue or paper towel and call 911,' and I did get her a paper towel. And, as I was going back into my apartment, I told Jamal to get off him, and when I did, he turned -- it was so quick -- and he jammed two to three fingers down my throat and started pulling down on my jaw."
Spray said something distracted him, and Jamal Mounts let her go. She locked the door and went to grab her phone to call 911, but it was dead.
Boling also played the 911 call made by Roxie Mounts for jurors.
On the call, Roxie Mounts is heard frantically telling the dispatcher that she was attacked by her son and that he's coming back. The dispatcher asked her to stay on the line to give his name, age and description. She gives the dispatcher her name as well before saying that she didn't need an ambulance and she didn't know if he had been on drugs.
According to Jamal Mounts' drug test, marijuana was in his system that night, Boling noted.
By the time, Roxie Mounts answered the dispatcher, a man is heard in the background yelling repeatedly "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Muffled screams and grunts are heard as Roxie Mounts yells "Johnny shut the door." Another person yells "Do you love me" over and over, as someone screeches and screams for help. Roxie Mounts stopped responding to the dispatcher.
Spray said within the time it took her to plug in her phone, she heard a kick at the door. Her great-grandson locked himself in the back room, and after another kick, Jamal Mounts was back inside her apartment attacking her, Spray testified.
"I yelled at him to go, get out, but he just kept coming," she said. "He pushed me on the couch and crammed his fingers down my throat again."
During cross examination, Jamal Mounts' defense attorney Eric Bearden asked Spray if Jamal Mounts ever choked or punched her.
"Was it like he was trying to pull something out of you," Bearden asked.
"I don't know what he was trying to do," she said, "but I was scared for my life."
Officers arrived while Jamal Mounts was still attacking Spray. Hopkinsville police allegedly tased him twice unsuccessfully before one officer jumped onto Jamal Mounts to get him off of Spray. He was arrested, taken to Jennie Stuart Medical Center for drug testing and later lodged at Christian County Jail.
After lunch, jurors were introduced to three Hopkinsville Police Department staff members who worked the scene in some capacity that evening.
One of the officers, Detective Terry Bigby, retrieved the scared little boy at the back of the apartment. He later transported Jamal Mounts to JSMC where Bigby says Jamal Mounts told him his mother was dead and he killed her.
Josh Turner, crime scene investigator and evidence technician for Hopkinsville Police Department, was on the scene that night with another investigator. Turner was still in training, so he was only there to observe.
A broken chair that was submitted from the scene as evidence was presented Monday by Turner who now runs the evidence lab for the department.
According to autopsy results, broken pieces of the chair were used in the murder of Roxie Mounts.
"He takes part of the chair and tries to cram it down her throat leaving splinters in her throat," Boling said of fatal attack. "He then shoves the piece of chair up her rectum and leaves her in the breezeway.
"The defendant is going to portray that he doesn't remember any of this," Boling continued. "That he was possessed by a demon."
Jamal Mounts' other defense attorney Stephanie Ritchie-Mize said her client was "insane" during the attack.
"Am I asking that Mr. Mounts be excused because he was possessed by a demon," she asked. "No, I am not. What you must decide based on the evidence is if his actions, the things you hear, that those delusions were in his mind. That the psychosis erupted that day and he lost control. That what he perceived as reality that day did not at all exist. The demons were in his delusions. These demons commanded him."
Mize went on to say that Jamal Mounts loved his mother and didn't intend to kill her that day.
"You're not going to hear that she had wronged him someway, that he was seeking vengance," she said. "You're not going to hear any motive at all because there is not one. There is not explanation that a rational mind can make for what happened on March 1, 2014."
Judge Andrew Self said the trial will continue at 8:30 a.m. today.
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.