SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Tuesday jurors are hearing opening statements and witness testimony in the murder trial of a Savannah man police have linked to the July 4th violence near City Market in 2017.
Jerry Chambers faces 14 counts, including felony murder and vehicular homicide for a deadly crash that killed two people in the SUV police believe he was driving, and a pedestrian, while trying to elude officers.
“There is absolutely no doubt who the person is who did each and every single one of these acts that brought that violence to City Market, that brought that death and destruction to all of those people," said Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon.
Chambers’ attorney told jurors in opening statements that his client was behind the wheel, therefore not the gunman in the drive by that set the violence into motion.
Defense attorney Robert Attridge called the crash that happened later that night that killed three people while Chambers was behind the wheel an accident, and that Chambers had no intent to kill anybody.
“My client had no intent to kill anybody. It was a terrible accident that night, but there was no intent to kill anybody. No intent to injure. You should find him guilty of some of these crimes, because he is," said Chambers’ attorney Robert Attridge.
Attridge went on to tell jurors Chambers is on trial for 14 counts, and that their verdict can be different on each charge.
For the first time, we’re seeing not only the dramatic moments leading up to and following the drive-by shooting at Savannah’s City Market on that July 4th night, but also other city camera angles that caught the movements of the white SUV as it left the scene, and ultimately crashed.
Played during opening statements, and then again as we got into witness testimony with current and former Savannah Police officers, jurors watched what cameras placed around downtown Savannah were able to capture that violent and deadly night, beginning with a drive-by shooting.
Two people were hit by gunfire, then the driver of the white SUV took off up Montgomery Street, turning left onto Bay Street heading west.
Cameras caught the vehicle as it passed by the post office on Fahm Street, and not again until police spotted the suspects further down West Bay, initiating a chase that would take them back the other way.
Assistant District Attorney Matt Breedon told jurors the SUV was going around 80 miles per hour, headlights off, when the driver crashed.
In that crash, Scott Waldrup was hit and killed, and several others were injured by flying debris.
The prosecution told jurors there’s no doubt Chambers was behind all of it, pointing to the video and other evidence to be shown as proof.
“And at the end of this trial, and of opening statements and the end of the trial, when I stand before you and ask you to find this defendant guilty of every single crime he is charged with,I’m not going to ask you to take my word for it. I’m not even going to ask you to take the word of the witnesses you’re going to hear from. I’m only going to ask you to believe what you’ve seen, because we’re all going to be a witness to his crimes and what he did that night," said Breedon.
The state called a handful of witnesses to the stand, including officers who responding that July 4th night.
“The vehicle was swerving in the lanes of oncoming traffic with traffic coming," said Ofc. Amanda Brooner who pursued Chambers in the chase. "And they were all over the road. So at that point we felt the need to try to stay with the vehicle, but try to back off.”
The states witnesses will continue offering testimony Wednesday morning.