COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus man’s trial continues this week. Eddie Clayton faces murder charges but claims he acted in self defense.
The case manager from the Columbus Police Department, Lt. Joseph Hart, was the only witness called to the stand Monday to testify for the state. He questioned the defendant shortly after the fatal shooting.
Hart testified about Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law since the defendant claims he shot and killed Robert Lockhart at his Grant Road home in July 2017 during a family gathering.
“A person does not have an obligation if they are faced with a death threat or a breach on their property to retrieve or step back, or basically give up that ground,”said Hart.
Defense attorney William Kendrick said evidence presented in court proves his client’s right to protect his home.
"He was attacked by Mr. Lockhart as he was coming into his kitchen. He is jumped on beat up and was able to break away for a brief second go to his room get his firearm,” said Kendrick.
After Hart’s testimony, the state rested its case and the defense chose to rest without calling a single witness to testify.
"We had an opportunity to put on evidence, we elected not to because we felt that we were satisfied with the state’s evidence that they had put in so far that it’s clearly a case of self-defense and defense of habitation,”said Kendrick.
Kendrick said a key factor was Lockhart’s autopsy results and the medical examiner testifying about how each shot could have been inflicted.
“I think what has come out during this trial is that the wounds or wound paths are consistent with Mr. Clayton’s version of events,” said Kendrick
Lockhart’s brother-in-law, Mario McKinley would be the second eye witness, but according to his sister he’s no longer in town. Another eyewitness who is legally blind showed up in court to testify, but the defense decided not to call him.
Closing arguments are set to begin Tuesday in Judge William Rumer’s courtroom at 1 p.m. The case is expected to go to the jury late Tuesday afternoon.