twice to police
No quick verdict in teacher-slaying trial
By Nancy Glasscock
MOULTON — Demetrick Young admitted Thursday that he lied to police twice about the killing of schoolteacher Judy Jester, but said he was honest when he told authorities he never touched her.
“I’m looking out for me,” Young said. “I’m not fixing to get punished for a crime I didn’t commit.”
Jury deliberation in Young’s capital murder trial began Thursday afternoon and will continue Friday.
Young is accused of robbing and fatally beating Jester on Oct. 26, 2005. He was 15 years old at the time.
The prosecution maintains that Young was the only person involved in the killing.
The defense contends that at least one other local teenager is responsible for her death. No one other than Young has been charged.
District Attorney Jim Osborn questioned Young about false statements he made to police, and called Young a pathological liar.
The first time authorities questioned Young about Jester’s death, he denied being anywhere near the Lawrence County Family Education Center where Jester was killed. In another statement, he told police he was in the building, but another local teenager, Chris Burgess, hit Jester with a pellet gun, knocking her to the floor.
Young said he first told police he was never inside the center because he and three other local teenagers made a pact never to tell anyone about their involvement in Jester’s death.
He said he was influenced by a cellmate who told him what to say in a second statement to police.
Called as the final witness for the defense, Young gave an account of how he spent the afternoon and evening of Oct. 26.
Young said after school, he went with Chris Burgess, Zachery Burgess and Kendrick Echols to another friend’s home in the afternoon.
Young testified that when they got to Alex Taylor’s house, the group smoked marijuana and plotted to get money to pay a bootlegger for alcohol. They never planned to kill anyone, he said.
The Burgess brothers, Echols and Young walked from Taylor’s house to the building where Jester was working after school. The four teens went inside, where they saw Jester, Young said.
Demand for money
Jester asked if she could help them, and Chris Burgess demanded money and hit Jester, Young said. Jester scratched Young’s face, but, Young said, he never touched her.
Young said he and Zachery Burgess ran from the building to Young’s grandmother’s house after Jester scratched him.
Osborn told the jury that Jester testified by marking her killer. The other teens who Young accused weren’t scratched, he said.
Osborn told the jury not to be confused by Young’s lies about another person being responsible for the killing, or about why he had scratches on his face immediately after the attack.
Young’s face was scratched because he attacked Jester and she fought back, Osborn said.
“She left a message for the police,” Osborn said. “She left a message for us.”
Young’s attorney, John Mays, said the Burgess brothers and Echols lied about what time they first saw Young on Oct. 26 and about their involvement in a plan to rob someone at the school and visit a bootlegger. He said Young didn’t act alone when he entered the school with the intention of robbery.
If the jury finds Young guilty of capital murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The jury could also find him guilty of felony murder, which carries a sentence of 10 to 99 years or life.
A felony murder applies to a murder committed during commission of a felony, even if the murder was accidental.
Capital murder applies to an intentional murder with another aggravated circumstance, such as robbery.
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