Jury deliberations expected Friday in Houston coworker killing

bpurser@macon.comJuly 11, 2013 

Robert Lee Gill of Fort Valley, who is charged with murder in a co-worker’s death after a fight, walks into Houston County Superior Court where he is on trial. Gill took the witness stand Thursday.

BECKY PURSER — bpurser@macon.com

PERRY -- Robert Lee Gill testified Thursday he feared for his life when he struck another man with a piece of wood that would later kill him.

Gill, of Fort Valley, is on trial in Houston County Superior Court on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and aggravated assault in the June 18, 2012, death of Terry Lynn Carson. Both were contract workers for the same company at Robins Air Force Base. Gill has pleaded not guilty.

“I just happened to get a swing in,” Gill told jurors. “I was in fear. ... I thought he was going to kill me.”

Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Friday.

Prosecutors say Gill struck Carson in the head and kicked him when he was on the ground after the men got into an argument at work that carried over into a physical fight in a parking lot not far from the base.

On Thursday, Gill testified that as the men were getting off from work that day, Carson made an obscene gesture, then pulled his truck over near his and started mouthing obscenities. He said Carson was acting crazy. A call to a supervisor went unanswered. Carson drove off, and Gill said he also drove away.

But at a traffic light, Carson didn’t take the green signal and waited for Gill to pull up alongside him. Gill told jurors Carson attempted to run him off the road before they even made it off the base.

“It’s him,” Gill told jurors. He said Carson’s actions were unprovoked, and he didn’t know what Carson’s beef was with him.

As the men continued driving from the base onto Russell Parkway to make the exit loop onto Ga. 247, Carson was yelling that he wanted to fight, Gill said.

Gill said he decided to go to the Cascade International parking lot on Industrial Park Boulevard because he needed to find out what Carson was upset about it and resolve it. He said he was afraid he’d lose his job if there was “any more drama” at work.

“My intent was to talk to him,” Gill told jurors.

When Gill reached the parking lot, Carson already had his shirt off to fight. Gill said he got out to talk with Carson when Carson reached into his truck bed and pulled out an aluminum baseball bat and came at him with it, striking him. Gill said he shielded his head from the blow with his arm.

“He’s aiming at my head -- trying to knock it off,” said Gill as he demonstrated for jurors how he blocked the blow.

Antwan Jolley, a co-worker, arrived and intervened. Gill said he ran from Carson. Gill said he saw Carson reach into his truck where Gill said he knew Carson kept a pistol.

Gill said he grabbed a 3-foot-long stick -- described in the indictment as a 2-by-4 board -- that was laying on the pavement in the parking lot. The stick was not recovered by police, who responded to a 911 call made by a passing motorist who saw one man strike another with a large object, according to testimony.

“You just hit me with a bat,” Gill recalled his thoughts for jurors. “I’m not going to let you shoot me.”

Carson came around the back of his truck where Gill was with the stick. As Carson cocked back to hit him with the bat, Gill testified that he hit Carson with the stick.

Carson hit the ground. Gill said he helped load Carson into his truck to take him to the hospital. He said Carson wanted to go home, but Gill said he wasn’t going to let him because he needed to go to the hospital.

Gill said he picked up the bat when he saw Carson’s stepson pick up the stick. Gill said he took the bat with him and went home.

“I didn’t know Terry was hurt that bad,” Gill said.

But in closing arguments Thursday, Houston County Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel P. Bibler told jurors that going home gave Gill 24 hours “to come up with this story” before he went to police.

Bibler argued that the men went to the parking lot determined to fight, that the fight had ended and then Gill came up behind Carson because he wanted the last hit -- delivering “the killing blow.”

He asked jurors not to give Gill “a free pass” but hold him accountable for Carson’s death because Gill “showed up to fight.”

Houston County Public Defender Nick White, who is representing Gill, noted the conflicting testimony of witnesses called by the prosecution. The witnesses included co-workers and Carson’s stepson who saw the incident unfold.

Prosecutors “want to convict this man of murder, and they can’t put up two witnesses that agree with each other,” White said.

He asked jurors to find Gill not guilty.

“We’re talking about a tragedy -- not a crime,” White told jurors. “He was trying to defend himself.”

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service