After hearing more than two weeks of conflicting testimony, jurors in Spokane County’s most expensive death penalty trial began deciding the future of Joseph “Jo Jo” Andrews.
The key for jurors is the credibility of Andrews’ former girlfriend, Tarry Green - the only witness to claim that Andrews shot two people to death three years ago in the front seat of a parked car near Browne’s Addition.
In two hours of emotional closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors tried to salvage a case with no physical evidence tying Andrews to the execution-style slayings of Larry Eaves and Eloise Patrick.
Defense attorneys, who insist their client is innocent, portrayed Green as a liar, thief and drug user.
“The state is asking you to decide a man’s fate on the word of someone you wouldn’t hire as your baby sitter,” said attorney Kevin Curtis.
Deputy Prosecutor Dannette Allen insisted Green, 25, had no reason to lie when she testified that she was in the back seat of the car on Feb. 19, 1994, and saw Andrews take out a gun and shoot each victim several times in the head.
Allen argued that Andrews, a West First crack dealer at the time of the killings, shot Eaves and his companion to prove a point. Eaves owed Andrews $1,000 for drugs, she said.
Earlier that night, Green saw Andrews take out the same 9mm pistol and threaten another man who owed him money, the prosecutor said.
“He yelled out, ‘I’m not one of your Spokane niggers,”’ Allen said, referring to earlier testimony by Green.
The all-white jury of six men and six women started deliberating late Tuesday. If they convict the 26-year-old Andrews of two counts of aggravated murder, he faces a possible death sentence.
If jurors believe Andrews killed Patrick and Eaves without premeditation, they could find him guilty of second-degree murder.
More than 200 exhibits were presented to the jury - from autopsy photos to 23 cigarette butts taken from the car where the victims were found.
In the end, prosecutors admitted they had no fingerprints, no murder weapon and no physical evidence tying Andrews to the shootings.
“But we provided you an eyewitness,” said Allen. “You have Tarry Green’s eyes, when she said she saw Jo Jo Andrews pull out the gun.
“You have her ears, when she heard him begin firing, and those six to eight shots began ringing out, like firecrackers going off.”
Both sides devoted much of their closing arguments to discrediting each other’s key witnesses. Prosecutors challenged the defense’s suggestion that the real killer was either Green or a drug dealer named Brenda Conway.
“The defense wants to fry their eggs and then have them hard-boiled later,” Allen argued.
She said Curtis switched midway through the trial - first suggesting Conway was the killer, then offering on the final day of testimony a witness who said Green confessed to the killings.
“They dropped that first theory on you. Then they said, ‘If you don’t like this possible murderer, then we’ll give you this other choice,”’ Allen said.
Curtis pulled no punches in describing Green as a self-serving liar with a history of drug use and theft who testified against Andrews to shield herself from prosecution for the murders.
Prosecutors formed a theory early on that Andrews had to be the killer, Curtis said, “and they refused to reconsider that theory,” despite the lack of physical evidence and the changing stories of witnesses.
If jurors convict Andrews of aggravated murder, a second trial phase starts next week. That will determine whether he receives the death sentence or life imprisonment without parole.