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Another juror leaves Jamie Hood trial; testimony continues | News

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Another juror leaves Jamie Hood trial; testimony continues
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ATHENS, Ga. -- A third juror has left the Jamie Hood death penalty trial.

A female juror was excused on Wednesday after telling Judge Patrick Haggard she was unable to remain impartial after hearing some of the testimony so far.

There are now 12 jurors and three alternates left in a trial that could take at least another month. Hood is accused of fatally shooting Athens-Clarke County Senior Police Officer Elmer "Buddy" Christian and wounded another officer, Tony Howard.

Heart-wrenching accounts from police officers continued on Wednesday, as did some of the contentious back and forth between Jamie Hood and some of the witnesses.

Forensics expert Jim Schultz described the desperate moments on March 22, 2011 as he attempted to render aid to Howard and then realized there was a second victim nearby.

"Lt. Whitmore yelled, 'I need help with Buddy,'" said Schultz. "I opened the door and SPO Buddy Christian was kind of leaning toward the center console of the vehicle. I placed my fingers on the left side of his neck and got no pulse. I said to Lt. Whitmore, 'He's gone.' As I started to cover his body and looked over at his computer screen, there were pictures of his family and pictures of Buddy."

Schultz and fellow officers said a prayer for their fallen comrade before loading his body into the coroner's vehicle.

On cross-examination, Hood questioned Schultz about the carjacking incident allegedly involving Hood and a local drug dealer that started the chain of events that day.

Hood, who is defending himself, claimed that Howard was out to get him.

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Jurors also heard from the surgeon, Dr. Whitney Webb, who operated on Howard at Athens Regional Medical Center after the shooting.

Webb testified Howard was shot in left side of his face breaking his nose, cheekbone and jawbone, and also shot in the left shoulder. The bullet traveled through his upper body and lodged in his right shoulder.

Hood challenged that assessment several times, suggesting Howard may have actually been shot in the right shoulder.

The courtroom went dark for much of the afternoon while the judge, district attorney and Hood went over crime scene photos -- including many of the deceased office – to decide which would be shown to the jury.

The media has been instructed not to take video of any of those.

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