GRAY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Opening statements and the state's first witnesses were called Monday during the first day of the Pamela Moss murder trial.
Jury selection began at 9 a.m. Dozens of potential jurors filled the rows of the courtroom.
Both Jones County District Attorney Fred Bright and Moss' defense attorney Frank Hogue asked questions centering around mental health. Hogue is expected to present an insanity case, meaning his client is not criminally responsible for her alleged actions. After a few hours, a 15 member jury was seated.
During opening statements, Jones County Assistant District Attorney Keagan Waystack laid out the state's story, claiming the victim, Douglas Coker of Henry County, was suppose to meet Moss on March 13, 2012 at a McDonald's in Bibb County to collect $85,000 she owed him. Moss and Coker were working together to form a non-profit housing organization. Moss was helping Coker write grants.
Instead of meeting him at the public place, the state says Moss had Coker meet her at her home in the River North community. Waystack said during opening statements Coker went there to get his money and instead he got a hammer to the head several times.
The state claims Moss then attempted to cover up the crime by cleaning it up with bleach and covering the scene with paint. The state also says she attempted to set her house on fire, destroying the evidence and the body, but it didn't work. Waystack said she dragged the body outside and dumped it under the porch where investigators found it days later. The state says this is a crime fueled by greed.
The state added Moss attempted to commit suicide before she was picked up by authorities.
"She knew from right and wrong. She's trying to cover up the entire time what she's done," Waystack said during opening statements.
During opening statements, Moss' legal team laid the groundwork for an insanity defense. Hogue told jurors that Moss was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. He says it will be a hard case to understand because this disease is very rare. Hogue claims on that day, an alter ego came out to protect Moss and that alter ego committed the crime. By raising an insanity defense, Hogue says his client admits to committing the crime but is not legally or criminally held responsible for it.
"I have an unhealthy client over there, she is not well. She did this deed, we do not dispute it. We are here to explain why," Hogue said.
After opening statements, the state called its first witness Judy Coker, the victim's wife. She testified she did not want her husband meeting Moss alone and was worried about him. She filed a missing persons case with the Henry County Police Department that afternoon.
The second witness for the state called to the stand was Officer Dean Watson of the Henry County Police Department. He explained the department's missing persons investigation and why officers were looking for Moss, the last person to see Coker.
Before opening statements began, Moss attempted to waive her rights to sit in the courtroom during the proceedings. She told Judge Trenton Brown that she is not emotionally stable enough to stay in the courtroom, but he told her she had to sit in during opening statements. Moss was crying in the courtroom.
Moss is accused of killing Douglas Coker of Henry County in March 2012. She is charged with murder and felony murder.
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