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Pacific County trooper shooting trial goes to jury

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TACOMA — A jury deciding the case of Martin Jones, a Seaview man accused of trying to shoot and kill a former Washington state trooper, has yet to reach a verdict after contuing deliberations through Friday.

Attorneys made closing statements Thursday afternoon after weeks of testimony.

"It's been a long journey," Assistant Attorney General John Hillman said.

Jones, a 46-year-old heavy machinery operator, faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder for the Feb. 13, 2010, shooting of Trooper Scott Johnson along Highway 103 near Long Beach. Jones testified he had no involvement in the shooting and pleaded not guilty.

Johnson has recovered and since been elected sheriff of Pacific County. The trial, now in its seventh week, was moved to Pierce County after Jones' lawyers expressed concerns that local reaction to publicity surrounding the incident and Johnson's election would bias a jury.

Hillman argued Thursday the witnesses and physical evidence clearly point to Jones as the only person with the means and motive shoot Johnson.

"The defendant set out that night," Hillman said. "He armed himself with a .22 pistol. ... He put it to the back of Trooper Johnson's head and he fired."

Johnson was shot while processing a van belonging to Jones' wife after she was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Johnson identified Jones in court as the man that approached him. Johnson said he saw Jones again as he returned fire at the shooter.

Investigators have matched a .22-caliber casing found at the scene to a box of ammunition in Jones' bedroom. Jones maintains he never left his house and that he'd gone back to sleep after his wife phoned him to say she'd been stopped.

Hillman argued phone records from Jones' home and cell phones contradict Jones' testimony and that phone company records show him making and receiving at least 18 calls between midnight and 1 a.m.

"What's extremely important here are those cell phone records," Hillman said. "The defendant is constantly on the cell phone. ... The defendant does not use his home phone again for 81 minutes."

Prosecutors suggested Jones ran home after shooting Johnson and disposed of his gun and clothes, which have not been located. Hillman noted a K-9 tracking dog followed a scent from the scene to within a block of the Jones home.

Defense attorney David Allen said one of his largest concerns is that juries are often more inclined to convict defendants accused of violence against a law enforcement officer. In closing, he urged jurors to remain skeptical and consider the possibility of imprisoning an innocent man.

"The state has to do more than come up with conjecture," he said, adding "It's only fair ... the state should be required to prove those charges."

Allen said the state has put together a lot of information showing Jones could have committed the crime, but none proving he did do it.

"I would say that's just ludicrous," he said. "There is absolutely no motive."

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