The multi-day jury trial of a Charlottesville man accused of killing his neighbor with a screwdriver started Monday, with the prosecution presenting significant evidence.
Gerald Francis Jackson, 61, is charged with second-degree murder after city police officers responded to an emergency call in the Belmont neighborhood in January. Jackson’s neighbor, Richard Wayne Edwards, 55, was found dead in his apartment at 1100 Cherry St. with wounds to both his neck and left ear.
Jackson has entered a plea of not guilty.
Monday in Charlottesville Circuit Court, the commonwealth laid out a swath of evidence against Jackson, including DNA evidence found on the defendant and a screwdriver believed to be the murder weapon.
“This is not a case about whether he did it, but why he did it,” city Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania said in his opening remarks.
Three city police officers testified Monday, creating a timeline of events similar to what was laid out at Jackson’s June preliminary hearing.
According to testimony, officers were called to the Edwards’ residence around 4 a.m. on Jan. 10 to investigate a death. When they arrived, they found Edwards dead and face-down in his kitchen. It was later determined by a medical examiner in Richmond that Edwards died from a stab wound to the neck.
Blood was found in Edwards’ kitchen, bathroom, front stoop and on Jackson’s right arm. Jackson told officers that he had found Edwards on the floor bleeding and attempted to stop it with his shirt. Jackson’s left wrist had a wound on it he later claimed was the result of a dog bite.
Jackson told officers that he believed Edwards had been killed because of money he owed for drugs. However, officers testified that no drugs or drug paraphernalia were found in Edwards’ home.
Later, when Jackson was arrested, a red Phillips-head screwdriver was found in the yard outside Jackson’s residence. Platania said the screwdriver appeared to match a flat-head version found in Edwards’ sink.
A forensic biology expert testified that biological material on the screwdriver shaft was tested and determined to likely be Edwards’ blood. Additionally, swabs taken of the blood on Jackson’s arm had DNA that likely belonged to Edwards, according to testimony.
The trial continues Tuesday and is expected to wrap up Wednesday.