Jury hung in murder case

Published 6:50 pm Thursday, August 13, 2009

A jury has found Antonio Greenlee of Cairo not guilty on one of three charges stemming from the shooting death of Ebony Clarke, but was unable to decide on other counts, resulting in a mistrial, according to Bainbridge police.

The verdicts were announced late Thursday afternoon. While District Attorney was not immediately available for comment, Bainbridge Public Safety Investigator Mark Esquivel confirmed the jury in the case was hung on the charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. The jury found Greenlee not guilty of malice murder, Esquivel said.

Greenlee was accused by police of firing a gun outside the Sims Street Apartments on the evening of August 10, 2008. Gunshots fired by someone that night resulted in the injury of Travis Hallmon, an alleged gang member, and in the death of Clarke, who was 21 years old at the time of her death. For now, at least, the jury was unsure if Greenlee—whom Public Defender Ernie Sheffield acknowledged had been on Housing Authority property before the shooting occurred—actually fired a gun or not.

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Sheffield said the jury’s decision indicated that Bainbridge is tired of gangs and wanted something done, but that his client accidentally crossed gang members who retaliated against him, most recently by testifying against him in court. According to Sheffield, whose office was responsible for defending Greenlee, he had never been in any previous trouble with the law, worked for his mother’s assisted living homes in Cairo, and was not a gang member.

Sheffield said Greenlee had ran afoul of Hallmon and other alleged gang members after they allegedly preyed upon the late Montravious Jones, a deaf and mute teen who died after being struck by a train near the Hutto-McIver Apartments in February 2009. According to Sheffield, Greenlee had defended the disabled youth from being picked on and incurred. Hallmon’s brother, Terrience Hallmon, Adam Hancock and Phillip Anderson were caught up in a string of fights and disturbances that preceded Clarke’s shooting, and were all at or near the murder scene.

Esquivel said in August 2008 that police believed the shooting was part of an ongoing feud between Anderson and Greenlee on one side, and the Hallmon brothers and Hancock on the other. According to BPS investigators, Hallmons had exchanged fighting words with Anderson and Greenlee on the day of the shooting and at some point, Terrience Hallmon pulled out a machete. Anderson then allegedly punched Terrience Hallmon in the face on the 1100 block of Broughton Street, knocking him out, at which point Hallmon and Hancock chased after Anderson.

The disagreement temporarily died down, but Travis Hallmon reportedly ran east down Broughton Street onto Housing Authority property at 108 Sims Street, yelling as he went, just prior to the shooting, Esquivel said last August. Clarke, who had been visiting a friend at the apartments along with her infant son, happened to be an innocent bystander when the unknown shooter fired multiple shots, one of which went errant and fatally injured her.

While Sheffield contends Greenlee is innocent, he has his own personal suspicions of who fired the gun that killed Clarke, although he did not elaborate. Sheffield said he hoped that District Attorney Joe Mulholland would consider re-indicting Travis Hallmon and Adam Hancock, who were charged with violating Georgia’s law prohibiting street gang activity. Under Georgia law, it is illegal to be involved in any group whose activities involve criminal actions.