Lawyers make closing arguments in trial of man charged in 1-year-old’s death

Jerry Atkinson Jr. testifying in court May 16, 2017. Credit: WAVY-TV 10 Photo

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Defense attorneys and prosecutors in the trial of a man charged in the shooting death of a 1-year-old boy spent Wednesday afternoon giving closing arguments.

Defense attorney Andrew Sacks said the prosecution’s case is falling apart, and that if prosecutors did not know what happened the night of the crime, they could not ask the jury to convict his client, Jerry Atkinson Jr.

Prosecutors said Atkinson participated in a plan to rob the victim’s mother with drugs and money, and the plan went awry. Dion Lofton Jr. was shot in the face and died at the home on Maple Avenue. One juror appeared to be crying, after prosecutors played the 911 call made by Nikita Hayes, the victim’s mother. You can hear her screaming, “My baby’s shot in the head” and “My baby’s dead.”

Atkinson took the stand Tuesday in his own defense, telling the jury he was on the porch and ran when he heard gunshots, and only later found out the baby died.

He admitted he lied when he initially told police that he was not at the house where the shooting happened. Atkinson said he lied because he was scared.

Prosecutors tried to bring a co-defendant back on the stand Wednesday morning, saying they have information that he talked to Atkinson about the case recently. However, the judge sustained an objection from the defense.

As part of its rebuttal Wednesday, prosecutors called a police sergeant who said another co-defendant told him Atkinson was there when they discussed the robbery and that Atkinson did have a gun.

The judge planned to dismiss jurors at the conclusion of the defense’s closing arguments Wednesday and bring them back Thursday for the prosecution’s rebuttal closing argument and the start of deliberation.

Erin Kelly will have updates from Portsmouth on air and online.