BELFAST – The jury began deliberating late Thursday afternoon in the murder trial of Jerome Reynolds Jr., 54, of Brooks, and considered the case for about an hour before being dismissed for the night. Deliberations will resume this morning.
In the final day of the trial, Reynolds took the stand in his own defense, describing the shooting of Janet Bacon, 60, of Brooks on Sept. 29, 2004, as a reasonable and necessary defense during an invasion of his home.
But under cross-examination by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, Reynolds admitted Bacon did not pose a threat to him, did not have a weapon, and was not likely to kill either Reynolds or his father, with whom Bacon had a relationship and was attempting to persuade to leave with her.
Benson also outlined a host of other options Reynolds might have taken short of shooting the woman, which Reynolds said either were not possible or had not occurred to him.
Jurors will consider acquittal, murder or a lesser charge of manslaughter.
Under examination by his attorney Jeffrey Silverstein, Reynolds said he was a 30-plus year employee of the Department of Transportation where he worked as a mechanic.
After coming home from work, Reynolds typically would clean the house, do laundry, and have a beer or two, he said.
Reynolds said his father, who was romantically involved with Bacon, would sometimes stop by in the evening, distressed by conflict with the woman.
“Sometimes he’d be discouraged when he stopped by,” he said.
Reynolds said he did not discuss with his father a December 2003 incident, testified about on Wednesday, in which Bacon is said to have forced her way into Jerome Reynolds III’s home and slapped the elder Reynolds.
Reynolds III testified that he had to carry Bacon out of his home, while she kneed him in the groin.
On the evening of Sept. 29, his father arrived at his house without calling, Reynolds said.
“He told me about what happened to him that day,” he said, referring to an incident in which Bacon reportedly made the elder Reynolds leave a senior club where he had been playing cards. His father wanted to stay the night with his son, Reynolds said.
“He said he had enough and he couldn’t take it anymore,” and that he was “afraid.”
Reynolds said later that night a car horn began blowing outside his house, and on investigating he found Bacon in her vehicle.
“I asked her what she wanted,” he said, and Bacon replied, “I know he’s here, and I want to see him now.”
Reynolds said he told Bacon to leave, and closed the front door.
“All of a sudden, the door slams open,” he said, knocking him “over backwards on the floor,” and Bacon stood in the foyer.
“I told her to get the hell out, again,” he said.
Reynolds said he then walked the 15 to 20 feet to a closet where he kept loaded firearms, and retrieved his shotgun.
With the gun in his hand, “I told her to get the hell out of the house,” she took another step, and he shot her. Reynolds said he thought “she was after my father,” and was going to “slap him around and drag him out of the house.”
Asked why he did not call the police, he said, “There was no time – it happened so fast.”
Under cross-examination by Benson, Reynolds said he felt threatened by Bacon.
“I was more scared than angry,” he said. “When somebody crashes through your door and knocks you to the floor, that’s a threat.”
Reynolds said he shot her because “I thought she was about to commit another crime,” and, “She advanced on me, that’s why I shot her.”
Reynolds rejected Benson’s suggestions that he could have carried or pushed her from the house, threatened to shoot her, called neighbors or police, hit her with the gun or shoot her in the arm or leg.
“There wasn’t time to do anything,” he said.