Murder trial may go to jury today
Final arguments are expected today in the murder trial of Ebony Clark, charged with murder in the stabbing death of Datavion Smith on Dec. 23 of 2012 in Brookhaven. Smith was 17 at the time of his death.
Trial testimony began Wednesday afternoon and continued all day Thursday, culminating with Clark taking the stand Thursday afternoon.
Based on testimony during the trial, jurors will have to determine whether Clark acted in self-defense and reacted to the escalated abuse of Smith, her boyfriend of two years at the time, or whether she stabbed Smith in a jealous rage, stemming from an argument involving other women, including strippers.
Clark faces a second-degree murder charge for “depraved-heart murder.”
Wednesday morning, Mississippi Crime Lab Deputy Medical Examiner and forensics pathology expert, Dr. Lisa Funte said the cause of Smith’s death was sharp force injuries; the manner of death was homicide. Smith was stabbed three times; the fatal stab wound occurred in his upper left chest, where the wound trajectory exhibited a left-to-right, top-down path, Funte said.
“This was the fatal wound,” Funte said.
Smith was also stabbed in his back and leg, however, those wounds were not fatal, Funte said.
According to witnesses with the state, Clark initiated an argument with Smith late on the night of Dec. 22 and into the early Sunday morning hours of Dec. 23. The argument escalated into an altercation where Clark grabbed a hair dryer and began beating Smith on the top of the head, testimony stated. Clark and Smith ended up in the living room just a couple feet from the bedroom door of Daniel and Laquisha Jackson, where Smith collapsed in a pool of blood, according to testimony.
Upon hearing the commotion, Laquisha Jackson, witness for the state, said she was awakened, opened the bedroom door and saw Clark standing over Datavion. “Datavion was stabbed and killed by Ebony,” Jackson said.
Daniel Jackson, also a state witness, testified that he picked up Smith with help from Clark, and carried him outside and drove him to the hospital. “I saw him bleeding, and I didn’t want to wait for an ambulance, so I carried him to my car.”
“Help me,” Jackson recalled Smith telling him while en route to King’s Daughters Medical Center. “I’m trying to help you,” Jackson testified he responded.
Derinesha Mobley, a friend of Clark’s at the time, testified that Clark and Smith had a tumultuous relationship. “She was very jealous. She would also fight with him about other women and check his phone all the time,” Mobley said. Mobley testified to seeing Clark repeatedly strike Smith with a hair dryer. Smith was trying to defend himself, Mobley said, and grabbed Clark’s wrist and pinned her down.
During cross-examination, Defense attorney Wayne Dowdy attempted to place doubt on Mobley’s account, citing discrepancies from statements made in her first written statement and her second.
“In the first report, you said you saw Ms. Clark with a knife, then in the second, you don’t. Which is it?” Dowdy questioned.
Later, Clark’s mother, Sandra Gale Clark, attempted to contradict Mobley’s testimony, claiming that in fact, Smith had been abusive to Clark in the past.
“How did they get along?,” Dowdy asked Clark. “Pretty good,” Sandra Gale Clark said.
Dowdy continued, asking, “Were there times that this wasn’t the case?”
“Yes,” Sandra Gale Clark said.
Clark claimed Smith had hit her on at least one occasion during an argument at dinner. “It was for no reason,” Sandra Gale Clark said.
Sandra Gale Clark also maintained that when she visited her daughter in jail the Monday after Christmas, her daughter had lacerations and bruises on her head and forehead as a result of being attacked by Smith.
However, the state disputed these claims by producing photos taken by the sheriff’s office immediately following Clark’s arrest early Sunday morning, which Assistant District Attorney Diane Jones presented to Clark and the jury.
Ebony Clark then took the stand.
On the stand, she testified that Smith punched her in the nose, beat her on the head with a hair dryer and grappled her wrists. She maintained that she was the victim of assault. From that point, however, the defendant said she couldn’t recall full details of the stabbing.
On redirect, the trial was forced into recess two times because Ebony Clark was unable to provide answers to the prosecutor’s questions, breaking down into tears, covering her face with her hands and sobbing into the microphone.
The state entered into evidence the video recording of the defendant’s interview, where she told police that she stabbed Smith on the coach. In the tapes, Clark maintains that she was being assaulted by Smith.”
“I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry. I loved him!” she said.
Despite the testimony of the witnesses, no one could place a knife in Ebony Clark’s hands. All witnesses did say they recognized the weapon as having come from the kitchen’s residence, however.
An official with the sheriff’s department found the bloody knife in the kitchen sink of the home, close to the block it reportedly was unsheathed from.
Expectations are that the case will be in the jury’s hands by mid-morning Friday, according to presiding judge David Strong Thursday. A verdict in the case could come as early as Friday afternoon.