COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The trial of a Columbus man accused of stabbing and seriously injuring an auto parts store employee moved quickly on the first day of testimony on Tuesday.
Jayvon Hatchett, 22, is charged with the aggravated assault of AutoZone employee Michael Hunt on August 25th, 2020.
The state rested its case against Jayvon Hatchett after calling just nine witnesses — most of them AutoZone employees in the store at the time of the attack and police officers who responded.
The prosecution and defense have both agreed that Hatchett stabbed Hunt seven times. The question for the jury is if Hatchett was sane when he did it.
Hunt took the stand Tuesday and described a vicious attack with a steak knife. DA Stacey Jackson showed the jury that steak knife, which Hatchett told police he cleaned and returned to his girlfriend’s kitchen where police found it.
“He just kept saying, ‘What did you say?’” Hunt said. “And then he kept stabbing me in the back. And then when he hit that last one and then I really screamed because I couldn’t breathe. I threw up. I was throwing up. Everything. He was not seeing things that people were saying in this courtroom. He wasn’t seeing horns or anything.”
Craft had told the jury in his opening statement that Hatchett was seeing horns on Hunt as he repeatedly stabbed him.
When pressed by Jackson, Hatchett had more to say about the attack. And that came in this exchange between the victim and the DA.
Jackson: “What were you saying to the defendant?”
Hunt: “Please stop. I have a wife. And I have kids. Please stop.”
Jackson: “Did he stop?”
Hunt: “No, he didn’t. He just continued on and on. I had seven stabbings in me. And the last one he did he hit me in the back of my right lung. Deflated my right lung. I was having trouble breathing. I was still screaming for help. And he was still on top of me at the time. This went on and on.”
The attack has left Hunt in a wheelchair. His disability has rendered him unable to return to work.
Jackson is saying this was a racially motivated attack by Hatchett against a white man he did not know.
Hatchett’s attorney Steve Craft has entered a not guilty by reason of insanity defense. A taped police interrogation of Hatchett revealed he acted after watching a video of an officer shooting a black man in Wisconsin.
Here’s what the two attorneys had to say about the insanity defense, a legal tactic that is rarely used in Muscogee County.
“The issue that will be before you today will be the question of his sanity at the time it occurred,” Craft said in his opening statement.
“In this case, the defense has to show or ask you to believe that based on the evidence I believe they are going to present my medical expert, Dr. (Christina) Gilser, that the defendant was suffering from a delusional compulsion to the point that he could not tell the difference in right and wrong,” Jackson told the jury.
On Wednesday, both sides are expected to have psychiatrists testify – one for the state and one for the defense. Also, Hatchett told Superior Court Judge John Martin that he intends to testify in his own defense.
UPDATE 10:34 a.m. 3/22/23: Wednesday morning the trial came to a day-long pause. The defense was expected to begin presenting its case this morning; however, their expert witness was unable to make it to trial today.
Their expert witness, a psychiatrist, is key to the defense as jurors will be tasked with deciding whether or not Hatchett was sane when he committed the crime.
Superior Court Judge John Martin says Hatchett is also expected to testify in his own defense when the trial resumes Thursday morning.