Defense calls witnesses in trial of Portsmouth man charged with killing 1-year-old

Posted at 12:54 PM, May 16, 2017

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - On day four of the Jerry Atkinson trial, the defense began calling their 15 witnesses.

Monday afternoon, attorney Andrew Sacks called Jerry Atkinson's mother, Dawn Riddick to the stand. She testified that she spoke to Nakita Hayes, the mother of 1-year-old Dion Loften Jr. who was killed on June 27, 2015, shortly after Atkinson was arrested.

Jerry Atkinson: 1st degree murder, aggravated malicious wounding, attempted robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony

According to Riddick, Hayes told her then that she did not think Atkinson was involved in the attempted armed robbery that took a violent turn and claimed the life of her son. This is different story than the one Hayes testified to when she was called for the commonwealth last week.

Marquis Hinton was also called to the stand. He pleaded guilty to his involvement in the incident last year. Since he is appealing his sentence, he invoked his fifth amendment right and did not answer any questions.

On Tuesday, day five of the trial, letters Hinton wrote to the Commonwealth Attorney's Office and Atkinson's mother were brought into court.

A handwriting expert testified that Hinton did write them. The letters say that Atkinson was not involved in the plan to rob the people inside the Maple

Dion Loften

Avenue home. They also say he was not holding a gun.

Several inmates from the Hampton Roads Regional Jail and one inmate from the Portsmouth City Jail also took the stand on Tuesday.

They testified to conversations they had with Hinton and Anthony Holley, another co-defendant. All said that Atkinson was not involved in robbery plan and that he wasn't holding a gun. They also said Atkinson was on the porch when the attempted armed robbery was occurring.

Day five ended with Atkinson on the stand. He testified that he did not know about the robbery plan and was not holding a gun. Atkinson told the jury that he went to the Maple Avenue home with Hinton and Holley so that the two could purchase marijuana. Atkinson says he didn't bring money with him and stayed on the porch until he heard gun shots. He ran away from the home, not even checking to see if his friends were okay.

Atkinson says he lied to the police because he did not trust them and was scared after they brought him to the Detective Bureau shortly after the incident.

On cross, the prosecution said if Atkinson could look police straight in the eye and lie, he can do it to the jury.

Atkinson faces a total of 10 charges, including murder, burglary, attempted armed robbery and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. On Wednesday, the jury will hear from rebuttal witnesses and closing arguments. It is possible for Atkinson's fate to be decided tomorrow.


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