Chattanooga murder trial expert contradicts defendant’s story and prosecution’s theory

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office / Adrian Darnell Nixon

A medical examiner testifying on behalf of the defense on Friday contradicted Adrian Darnell Nixon’s claim that Jeremy Clark was shot by someone reaching through the passenger side window of the Dodge Challenger the defendant was driving, saying it didn’t fit with him.

Nixon, 33, was in Hamilton County Criminal Court for the fourth day of his trial and heard Jay Jarvis say that the way Nixon repeatedly claimed Clark was shot would not have been possible, according to the proofs.

“It didn’t really sit well with me for a person who’s been shot in the head to bend over to talk to someone in a car,” Jarvis, who previously worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said during the interview. of direct questioning.

However, Jarvis also contradicted the state theory that Nixon shot Clark from the driver’s seat of the Dodge. Jarvis testified that Clark was shot from outside the vehicle, further testifying that the shooter had to stand next to the driver.

Nixon, of Chattanooga, faces charges of first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the shooting death of Clark, also of Chattanooga, at the J&J Lounge at 2208 Glass St. shortly after midnight on July 29, 2016. If he is convicted, Nixon faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jarvis said when Executive Assistant District Attorney Cameron Williams was asked about Nixon’s repeated claims that someone reached the vehicle and shot Clark. “He must have been wrong.

Jarvis has over 40 years of forensic science experience, owns and operates ARMA Forensics and has testified in over 700 trials. Jarvis often works with defense attorneys in Georgia and Tennessee.

“I’m sorry the evidence doesn’t support [Nixon’s] theory,” Jarvis said. “It’s an implausible theory.”

Jarvis also testified that he would expect a large cloud of bullet residue left in the vehicle if a firearm had been discharged four to five times. He added that spent casings were also found inside the vehicle.

Nixon’s ex-girlfriend Denise Flanagan testified Wednesday that she cleaned the Dodge Challenger on the afternoon of July 29 as she prepared to spend a birthday weekend with her friends in Atlanta .

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Jeremy Clark

“If they vacuumed the upholstery, it would make it go away,” Jarvis said of possible bullet residue during cross-examination by Williams.

“Did you know someone vacuumed the inside of that car? Williams asked.

“I don’t remember,” Jarvis said.

“Is it possible that the shooting started inside the vehicle? Williams asked again.

“Not in my opinion,” Jarvis said.

Late Thursday, the jury heard testimony from medical examiner Steven Cogswell of the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office, who performed the autopsy on Clark.

Cogswell said it “is quite difficult [for someone] to do” in regards to Nixon’s claims that someone ran from the outside of the passenger side through the interior of the vehicle and shot Clark.

“It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely,” Cogswell said.

He noted the constrictions of the small area of ​​the driver’s window that the shooter would have to maneuver if that were the case.

“If you’re the driver of the vehicle, you’re under no obligation,” Cogswell said. “As he moves, you can follow him and keep shooting.”

Clark was shot five times, four times in the chest and once in the head. The head wound entered above the left ear and exited just above the left eyebrow. Cogswell said it was probably the last shot as his body moved with each hit.

“The most likely scenario is that the person in the driver’s seat is shooting,” Cogswell said.

A defense motion to have the trial dismissed was denied by Judge Don W. Poole on Friday morning.

“I think he got a fair trial,” Poole said before denying the motion.

During closing arguments, the prosecution drew the jury’s attention to the victim, the actions taken by the defendant on the night of the incident, and the witnesses. Meanwhile, the defense asked the jury to use their common sense as they deliberate.

“This case is about Jeremy Clark,” prosecutor AnCharlene Davis said. “He was happy, he was carefree, and as he walked out that door with his friend, he had no idea it would be the last moments, the last moments, before he was shot in the parking lot. “

Davis urged the jury to remember the behavior of all witnesses on the stand.

“They’re scared,” she said.

Defense attorney Bill Speek cited the state’s inability to find a gun on Nixon or prove he ever had one.

“How can you convict someone of first degree murder if you can’t even put a gun in their hand?” Speek said. “The nature of this case is a tragedy. One life has been lost, the other is at stake.”

Williams began her closing argument by pointing out the behavior of each of the three eyewitnesses when they took the stand during the trial.

“The snitches have stitches, and they all know it,” Williams said. “That’s why they wouldn’t testify. Sometimes smart people do stupid things. And that stupid thing is that he murdered Jeremy Clark, with intent and premeditation. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please declare Adrian Nixon guilty of first degree murder.”

The jury began deliberating after 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at [email protected] or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

Sharon D. Cole