PERRY — Dressed in a grayish-black Houston County jail jumpsuit, a Warner Robins man on trial for attempted murder in the shooting of a civilian code enforcement officer told jurors Tuesday that he was protecting himself and his property.
John Adcock, 56, who is representing himself, also is on trial for firing on two city police officers and three wrecker drivers after the city was about to tow junk vehicles off his property at 204 Ward St. on April 23, 2008.
During opening arguments Tuesday, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason Ashford told jurors that Adcock had “a fortress of trash” that he was willing to kill for and that Adcock “took a substantial step” toward the commission of murder by shooting Beau Weathers, a civilian code enforcement officer who was unarmed.
Ashford told jurors that Weathers was shot in the face and shoulder and that police officers and the wrecker drivers took cover behind tow truck vehicles and police cars. The prosecutor noted that Adcock fired off two rounds from a shotgun, wounding Weathers, and also fired 18 rounds from a semi-automatic rifle, with the bullets penetrating through the vehicles.
Ashford compared the scene to a “World War” or “Iraq” and noted that Warner Robins police officers were never able to return fire.
But during opening arguments, Adcock told jurors, “Mr. Ashford paints a picture that I’m a desperate criminal. ... I maintain all I was doing was protecting myself and my property and my home.”
Ashford told jurors that Adcock had a stockpile of weapons and ammunition in his home. But Adcock told jurors that the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to possess firearms.
“These people came on my property to steal my cars,” Adcock told jurors. He also told jurors that anything inside his home is private.
Warner Robins police Capt. Bill Capps, who heads the city’s code enforcement office, testified Tuesday that Weathers had previously served Adcock with a 15-day notice to come into compliance with city ordinances by either removing the vehicles or ensuring they were operable and properly insured and tagged.
When Weathers, the wrecker drivers and Capps came to tow the vehicles, it was clear that Adcock was agitated and was not going to cooperate, Capps testified. Capps said he radioed 911 to report that he may need some help.
Warner Robins police officer Brett Rozier testified that he was nearby, heard 911 unable to contact Capps after his report and that he headed toward Ward Street to check on Capps.
Within seconds, Rozier testified that Capps radioed in that shots had been fired and a code enforcement officer was down, Rozier told jurors that after he arrived on scene, he was pulling his semi-automatic rifle from the trunk of his patrol car and was fired on. Rozier said he was a member of a specialized police tactical team, which is why he carried the rifle.
Two videos from Rozier’s police car were played for jurors. One was from the inside of the vehicle that showed through the back window Rozier retrieving the weapon from the trunk. The video also recorded the sounds of rapid gunfire. The second recorded video from outside the patrol car showed Weathers doubled over near Capps and two wrecker drivers taking cover behind the wheels of a tow truck.
Rozier testified that he was “bracketed” by the line of fire from Adcock. He said Adcock’s yard itself was covered by foliage and dark, although sunny outside. Rozier said that he did not know if any other officers or civilians were in the yard and that he did not have a clear target to fire on.
Capps testified that he never fired on Adcock because when Adcock came out of his home firing the rifle, he and Weathers both fled for cover. Capps said when he realized that Weathers had been shot, his chief concern became pulling Weathers out of harm’s way. Capps testified that he could not fire a weapon and help Weathers at the same time.
Capps earlier wiped away tears as the 911 tape was played for jurors. As the incident unfolded, Capps was heard screaming repeatedly into the radio of shots fired, then officer down and then the need for an ambulance.
“My heart sank because I realized Beau had been shot or killed,” Capps told jurors. Capps also told jurors that he was “in sheer terror. I was afraid for my life.”
During his questioning of the prosecution witnesses, Adcock wanted to know if the officers were required to have a search warrant, which Capps said they were not.
He also questioned why Capps did not follow the advice of former City Clerk Stan Martin, who served as an assistant city attorney at that time, to get a judge to issue a summons and decide whether his vehicles should be towed. Martin sat in the courtroom for part of the testimony.
Capps responded that was only one of the options that Martin had given. Capps said he checked by telephone with Martin while on Adcock’s property to ensure the city could tow the vehicles because he had only been with code enforcement for about four months.
Judge Katherine K. Lumsden, who is presiding over the trial, told Adcock during the proceedings that whether the code was followed was not an issue for the jury.
Adcock also asked Rozier if he saw Capps make a gesture indicating he had touched his gun in such a way to indicate it was hot after possibly having been fired. Rozier, who was under fire from Adcock, said he was “too busy” and did not see whether Capps was armed. Adcock wanted the video played again but the judge told him the jury had just seen it and they could look at it again during deliberations if they desired, or he could possibly reintroduce it during the defense part of the trial.
Adcock submitted into evidence photographs of the scene, including aerial photos, asking questions about whether his vehicles could be seen over his 6-foot high privacy fence and 10-foot-tall bushes. Adcock also questioned why those bushes, which he said were part of the active crime scene investigation, were cut down the day after the incident. The shooting resulted in a 10-hour standoff with police that ended peacefully.
During questioning, Adcock referred to himself in the third person, as “Mr. Adcock.”
Adcock was given the opportunity to wear street clothes for the trial but chose instead to wear his jail jumpsuit, Houston County sheriff’s Maj. Charles Holt, jail administrator, said outside of the courtroom proceedings.
Testimony is expected to continue today.