What the jury heard just before deliberations began in the Morgan Junction murder trial

(FRIDAY EVENING NOTE: The jury has gone home for the weekend, no verdict yet; back Monday)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“OK, jurors, I am going to pass the case to you.”

With those words from King County Superior Court Judge Theresa B. Doyle, the matter of whether Lovett “Cid” Chambers did or did not commit a crime went into the hands of 12 women and men.

Their actual deliberations did not start until this morning, since they did not receive the case until Thursday’s court session was almost over. The rest of the day had been taken up with closing arguments by prosecutor Maggie Nave and defense attorney Ben Goldsmith, after a tense disagreement over the objections he had started to raise toward the end of Wednesday.

Ultimately, Judge Doyle asked Goldsmith to be “circumspect and careful” in his objections, but said she didn’t believe “the court has the authority to tell an attorney NOT to object.”

So as she resumed, she again mentioned that our state’s law allows self-defense. And then she returned to Chambers’s actions: “He pulled his gun out, a semi-automatic handgun, that required international pulling of the trigger each time you fire it. He fired three shots at Travis, killing him … You’ve heard testimony that this man knows how to use a gun – target practice, skeet (shooting), the gun was cocked and locked … Where did he aim? Right at the torso … certainly he intended to kill him. If not, he certainly intended to assault him.”

As jurors, she reminded them, “you’re the sole judges of the testimony of each witness.” And, she said, they can consider the “bias” a witness might have – a personal or financial relationship, for example. “Remember the defendant is just a witness in this case, like everybody else. He doesn’t get some special review (just) because he’s the defendant.”

Did his story really make sense? she wondered: “Why would Jamie (Vause) and Travis (Hood, who was shot and killed) want to get into the defendant’s car? There is no evidence they are violent people. If you think they are violent because they used racist remarks, then consider” friends of Chambers who had testified for the defense that they used racist language sometimes.

Even if it seemed plausible they wanted to get into Chambers’ car, “why would they do that right in front of the Beveridge Place Pub” (where his car was parked)? “Why the passenger door – if they really wanted to attack him, they would have walked around to the driver’s side to yank him out.”

As for Chambers, she continued, “why on earth would a person (worried about an ambush put himself in the position of having it happen), “why would he get out of his car, set himself up for being ‘ratpacked’ by getting out of his car, walking with this one guy in front of him, not knowing where the other one is … it makes no sense whatsoever. He just came from the Feedback Lounge. He could have (gone back inside there or Beveridge Place). He could have just run away. Instead he claims his (post-traumatic stress disorder) made him get out of the car and follow these two guys. Why would you walk directly into danger instead of avoiding it? … This is a guy not afraid to confront ‘night crawlers.’ The state submits to you, he was angry and went to confront Travis, and probably Jamie too. … He really didn’t show you he was acting in fear … Even if you believe his story, he still followed them … didn’t call 911 .. didn’t do anything a reasonable person would do.”

She acknowledged Vause was not the perfect witness prototype: “He’s a piece of work. He smokes marijuana, grows marijuana, has a parole violation out of North Carolina. He uses the N-word. He said it was with an ‘a’ on the end and not meant to be offensive – you can take it for what it’s worth. … If he was lying, he could have made up a much-better lie. Instead he told you this sequence of events that still leaves you (wondering), what did happen between Travis and the defendant? He could have said (something different) but said Travis picked up the shovel … If Jamie Vause was trying to protect himself, why would he have said (that)?”

She also recalled Vause’s explanation of how the knife wound up in the back of the truck, saying it had been used on a marijuana product, and noting that evidence analysis confirmed marijuana’s presence on the knife. And, again: “You didn’t hear that the defendant saw a knife,” just that he thought one man had one.

As for the testimony of the defense’s expert witness Dr. Mark Cunningham, it acknowledged “the defendant had a very troubled past … involved in the criminal-justice system from age 21 to age 45. (But) he was never diagnosed in the prison system with PTSD.” She noted that Dr. Cunningham “charged a lot for (his work)” and “couched all his opinions” with disclaimers such as, “if the events are as (Chambers) reports them to be, then this is my opinion.”

Since Chambers acknowledged being not truthful with police, who’s to say he was truthful with Cunningham, or in testimony? she asked. Yes, the police interrogation hours after the shooting was “aggressive,” she said, suggesting that was understandable because “he wasn’t telling the truth.”

Also regarding police: “One of the claims he made (in testimony) was, ‘If I told them about the shovel, I was afraid they would destroy evidence’. When they were interviewing him, the shovel already had been collected. Jamie Vause already had been interviewed. It would have taken (a sizable conspiracy) to destroy the shovel. … Why didn’t police mention it (in questioning)? You want to hear what a defendant has to say … (so) of course they didn’t (mention it).”

More witnesses – the people who were outside smoking. One testified he hadn’t seen an “altercation.” One testified three shots were seen. One didn’t see a shovel but did see Chambers “put his gun in his pocket, turn, and walk right by him.” That witness, Brian Knight, who testified on videotape because he was at work out of the country, saw Chambers “sitting in his car with his cell phone … people start pouring out of the bar, they see the asme thing … (then) they notice what’s happening up the street, they see Jamie pull Travis into the truck and drive away northbound up California. … The defendant looked at (his) cell phone and without any trouble whatsoever started the car and drove away – made a U-turn and drove northbound up the street, in the same direction as (Vause’s truck).” Chambers “didn’t call 911, didn’t go into (either bar) and say ‘I had to shoot somebody who tried to kill me’ … he didn’t do any of that.”

On the defense inference that police “didn’t do a thorough investigation of this case” by not swabbing the car for DNA early on, not wrapping it to be towed and stored – “they did look at the car. There was no sign of an attack at the car. The questions about ‘road spray’ and why they didn’t tow the car on a flatbed … first, they didn’t know anything about the defendant’s claim of (a scuffle) .. they didn’t often tow cars on flatbeds … and the defendant himself drove that car that day on wet streets. … So by the time police towed that car, it already (had road spray).” Even if it had been swabbed, experts had testified that “touch DNA” can just as easily not be left by someone as left.

In examining the point of whether Chambers might have acted in self-defense, she pointed out, “Remember there has been no testimony that Travis swung the shovel.” So, she suggested, the first shot could have been interpreted as being fired as he tried to get into the pickup; the nature of that injury was described by the Medical Examiner’s Office witness, she recounted, as one that “would incapacitate Travis immediately and he would drop whatever he had in his hand. And that was not the lethal shot. … The next two shots, straight into the back, those were the lethal shots.”

In summary, Nave said, “I told you at the beginning, this could be summed up in one sentence. ‘This is a case about a drunk guy with a gun.’ … Travis was shot and killed by that drunk guy with a gun. Did he die because (of something the defendant heard him say)? Did he die because the defendant claims he tried to get into the defendant’s car? That’s for you to decide. But are any of those reasons (for him) to get out of the car and follow Travis Hood and shoot him three times, three intentional shots?”

Her voice, stern and sharp for most of her argument, now grew quiet. “This drunk guy thought it was a reason. The question is … do you?”

Next: Goldsmith for the defense. (An observer pointed out during a break that a number of co-workers from the defense attorneys’ office were in the gallery to observe.)

He began with intensity, picking up the shovel he had so often held up during the trial (and would wield again multiple times during his two-plus hours of arguments): “This case is about a split-second … a split-second when Michael Travis Hood, with rage in his face, with hate in his voice, and with this shovel cocked and ready to swing, took a step toward Lovett Chambers and said, ‘I’m gonna knock your ni–er head off.’ That’s the split-second you have to look at. Who waits to see if (Travis) Hood is going to knock Mr. Chambers’s head off or just leave him bloody and unconscious in the street? No one waits, because if you do, your life is in (Travis) Hood’s hands. The law absolutely does not require you to wait if you reasonably believe in good faith that you are in danger; you are entitled to act, and that is exactly what Lovett Chambers did.”

See it through his eyes, Goldsmith exhorted – “that night, out there on California Avenue in the dark and the cold … You have to hear (Vause and Hood’s) footsteps as they’ve fallen behind Mr. Chambers, hear their voices, ‘look at that ni–er walking upright, his mammy must have taught him that’. (Someone) opens the passenger door, flashes a knife … in his panic, (Chambers) can’t get his car started, can’t get his door locked, (imagines) himself stabbed over and over again in the driver’s seat – so he gets out, tries to find the man, can’t find him, it’s dark out, he sees this other man, he doesn’t want to go back to the Feedback, that’s the last place he saw the man with the knife.”

Chambers, Goldsmith argued, was asking the men what’s going on, hoping they “are going to leave him alone,” maybe “hoping some of his friends are going to come out” of one or both nearby bars, but “instead, (Travis) Hood picks up this shovel and leaves Mr. Chambers no meaningful choice. No one waits in that moment. No one. Especially if you’re Lovett Chambers, if you know what he knows about the world, you have to look at the world through his eyes. You know when (Travis) Hood picks up the shovel, holds it like a baseball bat, he’s going to be good on his word.”

Suggesting the jurors likely have perceived the trial as “interminably long,” he urged them not to look at “the time of this trial” but “the second (Chambers) had to react. … Everyone has the right to self defense … the fact he committed crimes 35 to 40 years ago doesn’t change that. What’s more, the past quarter century of his life has been a story in redemption. Since he last walked into prison in 1980, and got out in 1989, he has dedicated every waking moment to making (his mom) proud of her son.” Goldsmith turned away from the jury, toward Chambers sitting at the defense’s table. “You have done that.”

Recounting what Chambers has done with his life in the ensuing years, Goldsmith then said, “To suggest he put all that at risk just because he was called a ni–er? Mr. Chambers is a 69-year-old African-American man who has lived through segregation, lived in a country (that still has race issues) … you don’t make it that long if you get upset every time someone calls you a ni–er.”

The prosecution “has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt … that Mr. Chambers was not acting in self-defense. Mr. Chambers doesn’t have to prove he was acting in self-defense.”

Goldsmith pointed out that Chambers had testified, “even though the law absolutely does not require (a defendant to testify) … the law says the defendant can stand silent and you the jury cannot draw a single conclusion from that. But he wanted to tell you what happened. He got up there and testified calmly and credibly and told you the truth, even if he knew parts of it would not cast him in the best light.”

And, Goldsmith recounted what Chambers had testified about what preceded the shooting – trouble with his car doors (“he didn’t say (the car) wasn’t operational or functional”), and “he told you specifically why he didn’t try to go back into (either bar) – he couldn’t find the guy with the knife. The last time he saw him was between his car and (the bars) … Mr. Chambers told you he did everything he could to avoid a confrontation. That’s why he put his gun in his waistband – it’s not like he got out of his car shooting. It was only when this shovel -” which Goldsmith picked up and again held aloft – “… it’s only when (Travis) Hood picked up this shovel that Mr. Chambers shot him.”

As for his time with the police, it wasn’t just his long-ago experiences, but “the things that happened to him (the night of the shooting) with the police gave him less confidence that they were going to be truthful. He has been consistent with everybody he has told who he trusts that he thinks are going to give him a fair shake.”

And on the witness stand, under cross-examination by prosecutor Mari Isaacson, Chambers spoke “calmly, politely, consistently,” Goldsmith noted, contrasting it with the testiness of prosecution witness Vause under defense cross-examination.

He segued then to looking at elements of Vause’s testimony, saying he had likened Hood to a “rattlesnake … along a mountain path,” that he had described how Hood held it, as if he were going to hit someone with it, and that Hood didn’t have time to do anything with it – “yeah,” said Goldsmith, “he didn’t have time to ‘knock (Chambers’s) ni–er head off’.”

At that point, he declared “that was a hate crime – they were trying to commit a hate crime against him, and if (Chambers hadn’t shot Hood), it would have been a homicide or a beating.”

Describing Vause as a “racist,” Goldsmith said, “It is 2014 – there is no reason any white person should be using (the N-word).” And he ridiculed Vause’s protestations that he was not a racist because of his clothing, music preferences, and love life, among other things. “And this is the witness the state brought to you to try to prove that Mr. Chambers was not acting in self-defense.”

He then recalled the witness who had worked at Rocksport, Tara, talking about incidents of Hood having used the N-word. “So you hear from one racist, and hear about Mr. Hood from Tara … that’s a reason for a reasonable doubt.”

Goldsmith proceeded to say the prosecution had “sugarcoat(ed)” Vause’s background: “He’s a fugitive and a fugitive drug dealer,” but didn’t acknowledge it in court, he contended, until defense cross-examination, when Vause acknowledged going to court in North Carolina and saying he was still living in that state, but then leaving the courthouse and getting on a plane back to Seattle. Vause had gone on to say he didn’t “give a sh–” what those authorities thought, “so,” Goldsmith suggested, “if he did not ‘give a sh–‘ about lying to a judge there, he is not going to come into this courtroom and give a sh– about lying to you.”

The prosecution objected when Goldsmith went on to accuse them of not letting North Carolina know they had a witness with a warrant, when he was flown here to testify (from California, where he said he lives now). “That’s professional courtesy, even if the warrant was not extraditable.”

With the jury briefly sent out of the room, Judge Doyle overruled the objection. So a few minutes later, Goldsmith resumed: “Mr. Vause told you up there he expected to be able to walk right out of this courtroom because the state isn’t holding him accountable in any way because they’re not (contacting the North Carolina authorities).” He said Vause could not “keep a single aspect of (his story) straight,” from where he lived, to how marijuana affects him, to whose marijuana was found in the pickup truck, to where he saw Chambers when he and Hood left the Feedback, to whether he had seen Chambers’s gun or not and how he knew what kind of a gun it was, to whether he and Hood had been using the N-word or not.

Goldsmith picked up the shovel and held it blade up yet again: “Watch out, nigga, he’s got a gun!”, a quote from what Vause said he had yelled to Hood. A moment later, he picked it up once more: “I submit to you, what actually was said,” and he quoted Chambers’ “knock your … head off” recollection.

He also brought up the age difference between defendant and victim: “Mr. Vause and Mr. Hood are at least 20, 25 years younger – does it make any common sense that a 67-year-old man with two back surgeries, high blood pressure, and asthma is going to walk down the street behind these younger men and not do anything until (Hood) picks up (the shovel)” – again, the shovel, held aloft – “and then he shoots?”

Goldsmith argued that “physical evidence in this case … contradicted” Vause’s testimony. Again, the shovel. And another suggestion that “you have no reason to believe a single word that comes out of his mouth.” He went on, with continued use of the shovel, to take on the issue of where and how Hood might have been standing when Chambers shot him. “It’s possible he swung and then was shot … Mr. Vause is really the only person (the prosecution has) to try to prove that Mr. Chambers was not acting in self-defense.”

Mentioning the other witnesses called by the prosecution, he said “they only see a piece (of what happened) … and the pieces they see, if anything, corroborates self-defense.” Brian Knight testified that no one else was out on the street; so, also, said Chambers, Goldsmith noted.

No one said they had seen Chambers acting recklessly or looking intoxicated, Goldsmith contended. And: “The state said ‘this isn’t about the “why”‘ – it is, (but) ‘why’ can’t the state prove (its argument), that’s the ‘why’.”

He moved to “who,” reminding jurors, “This case was never about the ‘who’. … We told you in opening statements, Lovett Chambers shot (Travis) Hood. See” – pointing to a PowerPoint slide with the photo shown earlier in the trial, the kitchen table in the Chambers home, photographed by police – “there’s his gun, right next to his car keys. … You had witnesses testifying about (matching shell casings); well, yeah, no kidding, we told you Mr. Chambers shot Mr. Hood.”

Goldsmith then called into question police’s investigation techniques, saying they didn’t knock on doors at the cylindrical Cal-Mor Circle building across the street, just, as testified, left a card with management. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you are going to put somebody in the jeopardy of this kind of crime, the state needed to investigate it, and if they had, maybe they (would have found) a witness.”

Again, the shovel, aloft. “Once you pick this up (in the jury room, where all evidence will be available for review), and feel how heavy it is, the sharpness of its edges … (you’ll see) you could kill someone with this, or at least incapacitate them.”

And yes, he said, Chambers had said he “thought the guy had a knife – he wasn’t overstating things, he didn’t say ‘I saw that knife, that’s the knife it was’ – he said, ‘I thought there was a knife,’ and sure enough, in the back of the pickup truck, there’s a knife, and its blade is open.”

He circled back around to the car, “it was important enough to write a search warrant” but not towed on a flatbed, not swabbed for DNA early on. He picked up Chambers’s gun from the evidence-holding area of the courtroom. It was swabbed, even though the defendant had admitted it was his. And, he accused the state of “(taking) really good care of the evidence they were interested in, but when (we) go to test the BMW, what do we have? It’s covered in dirt, it’s covered in fingerprints from after the fact.”

On to Chambers’s intoxication – “You don’t give up your right to self-defense … if you go out and have a good time, any criminal predator can do whatever they want because you’re drunk? That’s exactly what (the prosecution) is arguing.”

Chambers might indeed have not been affected much by what he had had to drink, Goldsmith argued, suggesting as proof of that, the fact he had backed his car into his garage when he arrived home. “If he hadn’t had a gun, he woulid have been a guy who had had too much to drink that night and gotten beaten to death.”

At his house, the police showed up, “does he run out the back door? Sara says, Cid, somebody’s at the door. He gets up, goes out – he’s handcuffed, they read him his Miranda rights, he says, I don’t want to talk, figures he’ll call his wife, ‘we’ll get a lawyer, we’ll get this thing started’ … but that’s not what happened.”

Recounting Chambers having not been allowed to use the bathroom at his home after being taken outside and arrested, and then eventually taken to a holding cell and on to the Homicide Unit, Goldsmith played the video clip in which Chambers is heard making one knock on the door, then a pause, then another one, a pause, a louder one, a pause, a louder one, a pause, and then finally the sound of him urinating in the corner.

And prosecutors didn’t even bring that up, Goldsmith declared. “On cross-examination, we said to Detective Steiger, ‘he urinated in the room.’ (His reply:) ‘Yeah, that’s what it sounded like’.”

His wrist was hurt during the hour he was off-camera, Goldsmith said (the hour when he was taken to Harborview for the blood-alcohol test). And, he suggested that Chambers felt coerced to speak to them. When he did, “the (detectives) are good interrogators. They are schooled in psychologically coercive techniques.” No, they weren’t assaulting him, but, Goldsmith asked, “Would any reasonable person trust detectives talking to you like this?”

Another video clip, the one in which detectives and Chambers were shouting at each other, with the police dismissing what he had told them about arriving home and talking to his wife about the movie she was watching: “None of that sh– happened!” they shouted. Chambers was shouting too: “Why in the f— would I walk out of a bar and chase two mother f—ers down the street?”

“Detective Steiger said he thought Chambers remembered exactly what happened but just wasn’t telling (them). He’s absolutely right!” He then called the prosecution case “riddled with reasons to doubt,” a phrase he used several times. “The burden of proof always remains on the state.”

Witnesses had said Chambers reacted calmly to racist language. So, Goldsmith offered, “If this case had only been about Mr. Hood or Mr. Vause calling him a ni—r,” nothing further would have happened, “but then this –” and he grabbed the shovel again, holding it aloft.

Final points included the prosecution “ma(king) a big deal out of Dr. Cunningham making a lot of money,” while the defense suggested he did a lot of work and so he should have. And he ridiculed the prosecution for referring to Chambers as “the defendant” when speaking to his sister Betty Wynne. “He has a name – Lovett James Chambers.”

Reminding the jury that “one of the bedrock principles of our system .. is the presumption of innocence,” Goldsmith said again, “The state has the entire burden of proof in this case, that Mr. Chambers was not acting in self-defense. … If there is any reason you think Mr. Chambers was acting in self-defense, you have a duty to find him not guilty. … You are to give this case the most careful consideration that you would give the most important matter in your own life.” He offered an analogy about a house fire, and whether you would believe the prosecution witnesses if they told you the house wasn’t on fire, or offered random observations about the house in general. “You would not turn around and go to your car based on that and let your house burn to the ground; do not let the state burn Mr. Chambers’s life to the ground based on what they’ve brought you in this case.”

Saying he and his co-counsel were “nervous because we are turning over Mr. Chambers to you,” he then noted that Nave would be up next with rebuttal, but “the state doesn’t have the last words – you do. As Ms. McLane said a few weeks ago, ‘be moved by the evidence.’ Be moved. Your last words should be, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty, not guilty.”

In rebuttal, Nave said, “The defense has tried to make this about race, painted Vause and Hood as racists, yet said the defendant was not bothered by racist slurs, so why has the defense made this a case about race? Because they are trying to pander to your prejudices … The state is not asking you to tolerate racism. The state is asking you to refuse to let your abhorrence of racism to get in the way of a rational view of the evidence in this case. The law protects everybody – bigots, people of goodwill, saints, sinners. Murder does not become justified because you decide the victim is not a good person, or is a racist.”

She continued, “The defense also claims this was a hate crime. Travis Hood and Jamie Vause were in their own neighborhood – they lived in West Seattle. They were celebrating Travis’s first paycheck. Why would these two men out of the blue decide to commit a hate crime? There’s no evidence in this case at all that these two were violent … they had no reason to attack him at his car … if they were going to go find an African-American to attack, why would they do it at this place, why would they do it at their own vehicle? Travis Hood was shot not at (Chambers’s car), but at his own vehicle. He didn’t pick up the shovel until the defendant came into the area of his vehicle. … If the defendant didn’t want any confrontation that night, why did he follow them up the street?”

She also said there was evidence that Chambers was drunk that night, and denied the defense contention that “what we are saying is that if you’re drunk you can’t defend yourself. I said nothing of the kind.” Also, “the defense wants you to disregard Jamie Vause, (saying), he’s a liar, a liar, a liar – except for the part about the shovel. If he wanted to lie, why would he say Hood (was holding the shovel)? If they were planning on ‘ratpacking’ Chambers, why would Vause be in the car at the time it occurred? If something were going down, they were doing a hate crime, or … he would have been outside the truck.”

As for the defense’s suggestion that they hadn’t had to bother verifying that it was Chambers’s gun, Nave picked it up and noted that he had asked police, ‘How many times did I shoot the son of a bitch?’ “Would you expect police to rest their investigation on that? Of course not. Defendants change their stories, change their minds.”

And, police did cast a wide net for evidence, she said, even putting out a call via the media.

“What I said to you at the start – this is a case about a drunk guy with a gun. If he hadn’t been drunk, we don’t know what would have happened. But he had a gun and he knew how to use it. The victim, you may have decided, was a racist, and you may have decided you don’t like that. But I know you will take it seriously. … We have confidence you will convict the defendant of murder in the second degree, because that’s the crime he committed.”

And that’s when Judge Doyle declared the case was officially in the jury’s hands. (She also told the two alternate jurors they were dismissed – but until there’s a verdict, they still have to stay away from news coverage and can’t discuss the case, as, there’s always a chance an alternate would be needed to step in, though if there was, the jury would have to start deliberations over from scratch.)

We will of course publish updates as deliberations continue.

LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: The jury went home after a full day of deliberations, no verdict yet; they will resume work Monday.


Trial report, Wednesday 4/2/2014 (Closing arguments begin)
Trial report, Tuesday 4/1/2014 proceedings (Defense rests)
Trial report, Monday 3/31/2014 proceedings (Defendant testifies)
Trial report, Wednesday 3/26/2014 proceedings (Last day before a 4-day recess)
Trial report, Tuesday 3/25/2014 proceedings (Five defense witnesses)
Trial report, Monday 3/24/2014 proceedings (Cross-examinations dominate the day)
Trial report, Thursday 3/20/2014 proceedings (Defense’s 1st witness continues)
Trial report, Wednesday 3/19/2014 proceedings (Prosecution rests, defense begins)
*(No court Monday-Tuesday 3/17-18 due to illnesses)*
Trial report, Thursday 3/13/2014 proceedings (Prosecution calls final witness)
Trial report, Wednesday 3/12/2014 proceedings (More blood-alcohol-level discussions)
Trial report, Tuesday 3/11/2014 proceedings (Interrogation discussion, autopsy photos)
Trial report, Monday 3/10/2014 (Confrontational video continues)
Trial report, Thursday 3/6/2014 proceedings (Car controversy; Chambers on video)
Trial report, Wednesday 3/5/2014 proceedings (Defense protests surprise, calls for mistrial)
Trial report, Tuesday 3/4/2014 proceedings (‘Police and a passerby’)
Trial report, Monday 3/3/2014 proceedings (‘Back to the background’)
Trial report, Thursday 2/27/2014 proceedings (Jamie Vause’s second day on the stand)
Trial report, Wednesday 2/26/2014 proceedings (Jamie Vause’s first day on the stand)
Trial report, Tuesday 2/25/2014 proceedings (DNA analysis, police)
Trial report, Monday 2/24/2014 proceedings (5 more witnesses)
Trial report, Thursday 2/20/14 proceedings (first witnesses)
Trial report, Wednesday 2/19/14 proceedings (opening statements)

25 Replies to "What the jury heard just before deliberations began in the Morgan Junction murder trial"

  • Teri Ensley April 4, 2014 (1:35 pm)

    Wow! Tracy. Well done.

  • sna April 4, 2014 (3:03 pm)

    Well done.
    Based on what I’ve read here, if I put myself in the place of a juror, I’d have a hard time convincing myself beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn’t defending himself. If this were a “preponderance of evidence” standard, I’d go guilty. But reasonable doubt is a high standard.
    I did find this line by the defense odd though: “If there is any reason you think Mr. Chambers was acting in self-defense, you have a duty to find him not guilty.”
    Do you have to think he was acting in self defense or only believe it’s reasonably possible he was? In my mind, there’s a big difference between those two.

  • West Seattle Hipster April 4, 2014 (5:01 pm)

    The coverage of this trial (and of the actual crime itself) has been stellar. In-depth and highly detailed reporting has really formed my opinions of what happened the night Travis Hood was murdered.


    I feel that Travis Hood had the fatal misfortune of crossing paths with someone who was a ticking time bomb. I feel the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was not defending himself.

  • jamie vause April 4, 2014 (7:41 pm)

    Well I admit my past isn’t flawless. My ability to remmber and tell the truth iwould be at risk if i was a criminal at heart all my charges would look more like Chambers record. I have had all marijuana misdemeanors until the ounca and and a half and scale that got me my so horribly viewed felonies that all seem judge my credibility so harshly compared to Chambers but all i see is the face of an evil liar and a con hell he even conned his own wife i know the defense attorney is all money motivated and surel_y knows Chambers is guilty just as GOD knows it I’m really sorry my records not perfect but realize no matter the outcome i told the truth and West Seattle had a cold blooded murderer amongst you. Please continue to pray that justice prevails in the end

  • Andrea April 5, 2014 (5:16 am)

    I met Mr. Chambers recently and we discussed our daily court occurances. He is a calm, courteous, considerate, compassionate and caring person. He and I wished eachother well through trial. He carried himself with dignity for others (like Martin Luther King Jr.) in a professional, respectful way.

    The jury must remember — they only get a part of the truth — its a system with flaws and some times those very serious flaws designed as protections can harm a person (esp. facing charges) more often and is given less importance than the truth is told.

    I urge all current and potential jurors to remember: A defendant is PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. If it was YOU in his shoes regardless of where you put on those shoes and walk to in those shoes — you would want every one of the 12 to argue/debate about each and every circumstance to define “what if ??….”. It only takes one person that can stand up for the rights of a defendant(and others) if there is even a hint of doubt or a whole lot of doubt, because that is what our system has always been about. People need to know their constitutional protections and lean in favor of defendants in specific times where circumstances withstanding are both subjective and objective just the same. – What would you do in that person’s shoes in that person’s situation?

    Knowing that you could be deprived of your rights in a drop of a hat, or be falsely accused by those who lie on the stand, or subjected to corrupt policing… Oh yes all of the above occur right here in West Seattle every day. Learn your rights, and exercise them – that is what the forefathers stood up for, for each and everyone of you – no matter your race, creed, religion and so forth. Racism is in each one of us at some point in our lives no matter how wrong it is we are flawed as people in a flawed world with a flawed system.

    Innocent people are wrongly convicted all the time and later exhonerated years later after depriving them of the rights. (ex.-West Memphis Three)

    God Bless to all — defendant, victim, and witnesses (and all their families/friends in this case), but you first have to identify the true victims (all 3) of any and all unfortunate crime or crimes that occured.

    I wish Mr. Chambers the best of luck that his Jury makes an intelligent finding not based solely on emotion. (And there are never enough African-American jurors who show up for jury duty to represent a community even for us white people who’d like a variety whom truly represent our community as a whole).

  • miws April 5, 2014 (7:55 am)

    (And there are never enough African-American jurors who show up for jury duty to represent a community even for us white people who’d like a variety whom truly represent our community as a whole)


    Andrea, I happened to notice that as well, during my two days in the Jury Assembly Room at the Downtown KC Courthouse earlier this week.


    Mostly Caucasian, with a few other ethnicities sprinkled in; even at couple of them born outside the U.S. and now Citizens, but I don’t honestly recall if their were any African Americans.



    • WSB April 5, 2014 (8:26 am)

      Point of order: “Show up” could be read as “summoned but didn’t show up.” The problem COULD be that the pool of who’s being summoned isn’t diverse enough, for starters, never mind whether those summoned “show up” or not. I still don’t know the mysterious formula of what gets you summoned. I have been a voter/driver/otherwise-publicly-registered-for-things person for 35 years, in four states, and have yet to be called.

  • Rick April 5, 2014 (8:28 am)

    Yeah, he’s a real MLK. Your comparison is beyond disgusting.

  • ScubaFrog April 5, 2014 (8:38 am)

    Did she REALLY just compare this bank-robbing murderer to MLK? Wow…

  • jodie April 5, 2014 (8:43 am)

    So I tried so hard not to feed in to these comment’s but just cant after reading andreas…u met him recently meaning in jail or through the defense team.. travs’ mom and i have been in the courtroom every day and every day he has looked us straight in the eye and smiled or snickered or straight out laughed… I’m sorry but if I shot someone in self defense it would bother me…he has no remorse. We also had to sit there and watch him interact with his friends… something we will never be able to do with trav again.. andrea next time u talk to chambers tell him I said rot in hell..

  • miws April 5, 2014 (9:02 am)

    Good point, WSB.


    In my 37.5 years of being a registered voter in WA State/King County, I’ve been summoned about 6 or 7 times, others I’ve talked to over the years, with a similar amount of time of being a registered voter, have never been summoned.


    A couple of interesting things; two people I “know” to some extent, my literally next door apartment neighbor was in the Jury Assembly Room, as was the wife of another rather prolific WSB’er.



  • sna April 5, 2014 (9:38 am)

    A few years ago when I was summoned for jury duty, I asked the clerk at check in how many people actually show up. He said “about half.”

  • Westsider April 5, 2014 (10:26 am)

    Not guilty.

  • Teri Ensley April 5, 2014 (2:49 pm)

    Andrea,you made many, many excellent points about our justice system–especially in paragraphs one and two. Thank you.

    My heart and thoughts are with everyone involved with, and touched by, this tragic need for a trial.

  • MyEye April 5, 2014 (4:04 pm)

    You make some really horrible points. I can not believe that you are comparing this gentleman who killed another person to MLK. Frankly that is sick.
    After following this case I too hope the jury makes the intelligent and well informed decision and declares him guilty.
    MLK was a man of non-violence. “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
    Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
    Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.
    Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
    Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK

  • Pat (Destiny Hood Travis daughter s aunt) April 5, 2014 (6:37 pm)

    No matter what happends , he will face final judgement and that is with our Lord .I have to see my niece Destiny Travis’s daughter whom lives with cry her self to sleep at night because this man murdered her daddy .Shes only 14 years old her daddy wont be able to even walk her down the isle when she gets married , that man took that from her .He needs to pay for what he did .He intended to hurt or kill Travis when he walked towards Travis .It’s not self-defense when he did even bother to dial 911 to say what he did.

  • Pat (Destiny Hood Travis daughter s aunt) April 5, 2014 (6:45 pm)

    Thou Shall not kill , he will go to hell..

  • West Seattle Hipster April 5, 2014 (7:51 pm)

    Andrea, comparing Lovett Chambers to Dr. Martin Luther King? Perhaps you have not been following this case closely. This is from the WSB on 1/23/12:




    “(Suspect) has admitted to being convicted for bank robbery. A records check under the FBI # shows he was convicted for armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, rape. It appears he has several convictions for armed robbery. He also has several AKA’s in the criminal justice system as well as multiple social security numbers.”


    Dr. King was not a rapist, robber, kidnapper, nor did he ever take someone’s life.


    Mr. Chambers has done all of the above.

  • ScubaFrog April 5, 2014 (9:44 pm)

    Good God I didn’t know he was a rapist, too!? How can people like Andrea, Alphonse and Westsider defend someone like that? MLK!?

  • WS Neighbor April 6, 2014 (8:28 am)

    Cid Chambers is innocent. He acted in self defense. I’m sorry his attacker is dead, but I’m also glad he wasn’t killed by these guys. This event is a tragedy for all of us.

  • MyEye April 6, 2014 (1:52 pm)

    I don’t know how you could look at the evidence and thing that Chambers was innocent. If by some travesty he is found innocent, I hope they go after him for being a fellon in possession of a firearm.

  • Seattle Metro Resident April 7, 2014 (12:38 pm)

    Funny how believers say only god can judge, but everyone seems to think because he has committed a legal crime he is going to hell! Did Jesus come down to your home and tell you…”Cid is going to hell when he dies!” You believers are comical! Maybe your going to hell for passing judgement!

  • Seattle Metro Resident April 7, 2014 (12:43 pm)

    Unless you’re black, you’ll never truly understand what its like to be called a nigger. Nothing compares to that word in our hearts, minds or souls. Its a word that incites rage and fear at the same time. Imagine always being around groups of people and only ever seeing maybe 1 or 2 people who look like you. Wouldn’t it make you feel uncomfortable or on the defense? Do you think Mr. Hood and Mr. Voss would have talked like that in a predominately black bar? Of course not, because at that point they are the minority and would be the uncomfortable ones.

  • bolo April 7, 2014 (9:52 pm)

    @Seattle Metro Resident,
    Agreed. Thank You. There should be NO reason for ANYONE to use that word, regardless of HOW they pronounce it. Are people that brainwashed by the Hollywood record packaging/selling machinery to think it’s OK? Just think, if these guys refrained from using that word*, the outcome of that night there at the Feedback could have (probably would have) ended much happier for all concerned.


    We are supposed to be beyond this by now…


    * Along with someone refraining bringing their gun to a bar, along with someone refraining from drinking/smoking too much, etc.

  • drahcir61 April 8, 2014 (4:51 pm)

    This is not Florida, I would have found him quilty too. And then to read that he’s robbed banks & raped … get him out of society!

    The 2nd Amendment (foolishly!) gives you the right to own a gun, some will acquire permits to carry in public. But if YOUR life is not in imminent danger & you pull that trigger, you WILL be found guilty of murder.

    Seattle is one of the safest large cities in this country, so next time you pack that loaded gun when you leave the house, just remember your jury will not be made up of Floridians & 20 to 30 years in prison is a long time to ponder your decision to carry that day.

Sorry, comment time is over.