State: Home invasion suspect blamed 'figment of imagination'
Posted March 27
Raleigh, N.C. — The defense attorney for a Raleigh man on trial for a series of burglaries and violent home invasions in 2012 and 2013 told jurors during closing arguments Thursday that there was no eyewitnesses, no DNA and no fingerprints to connect his client to the crimes and that they could not beyond a reasonable doubt find him guilty.
But Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said the defense's case is "so stretched," that the defendant, Jahaad Marshall, implicated a fictional person called "B.J." – who just happened to have the same initials as Marshall's nickname "Black Jack" – because there was no way to escape the "overwhelming evidence" that connects him to the cases.
Marshall, 27, faces nearly two dozen charges – including attempted first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense, attempted rape and first-degree burglary – in the four cases, including one on Jan. 7, 2013, in which a woman was sexually assaulted and her husband was shot in the spine in their home in Raleigh's historic Oakwood neighborhood.
"Considering the severity of these charges, if 'B.J.' wasn't a figment of Jahaad Marshall's imagination, he would have been brought in here," Zellinger said. "They would have brought him in here to point the finger at him. Instead, no, 'Let's just invent a guy and say that he did everything, and try to jump in to where the believable evidence was.'"
Attorney Deonte Thomas never mentioned "B.J." during his 40-minute closing argument, nor did he refer to any other aspect of his client's two-hour testimony from Wednesday when Thomas repeatedly asked the judge to remove him from the case because he knew his client would lie on the witness stand.
Against his attorney's advice, Marshall testified that he only drove the getaway car used in the Oakwood invasion and that he had nothing to do with the shooting, sexual assault or robbery that occurred inside the house.
Police arrested Marshall and his 17-year-old brother a short time later following a high-speed chase and found two guns on the side of a road that investigators say were used in the crime.
Those weapons, as well as items found in Marshall's 1988 Cadillac and a hotel room where the brothers were staying, eventually connected them to two burglaries and another violent home invasion on Dec. 30, 2012, in which a married couple was held at gunpoint, robbed and then left handcuffed to their bed.
The Oakwood case was the most violent. The male victim, Jason Beyer, tackled one of the assailants and fought them both so that his wife could escape. She was at a neighbor's house when she heard gunfire.
"The truth doesn't go away in this case. Jason Beyer gave up his legs to save his wife. It's indescribable to describe how much he lost that morning, how much (his wife) lost that morning," Zellinger said.
"There's no doubt about who committed this crime," he went on to say. "There's no doubt about the identity."
Jurors deliberated more than two hours Thursday afternoon before being dismissed for the day. They were expected to return to court Friday morning.