Defense rests in Jones County murder trial

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Justin Blakeney's murder trial continued Friday in Jones County as the defense began to call their list of witnesses. Blakeney is charged with capital murder for allegedly killing his girlfriends daughter. 

Prior to the first witness the defense counsel asked to renew the motion to recuse, and Judge Landrum denied the motion. 

Amber Everett who has known Blakeney for about eight years took the stand first for the defense.

Everett was questioned by defense attorneys regarding the interaction between Justin Blakeney and 2-year-old Victoria Viner. 

"I never saw Justin discipline her," said Everett. 

She stated her last contact with Victoria was three to four days prior to her death. 

"The only thing unusual I saw was bruising on her face," said Everett. "Me being a mother, I had questions about it."

During her testimony Everett added that she (Victoria) acted normal with Justin, she wasn't as energetic or bubbly. But kind of spaced out. "She was herself, but acted like she didn't feel well in a sense," said Everett.

Both state and defense counsel asked multiple questions about tattoos located on Blakeney's back, chest and leg. Along with displayed several photos to the witness and then passed to the jury. 

John Henry who has known Blakeney for around 12 years took the stand next for the defense. 

Henry was questioned about the interaction between Justin and Victoria. 

"They appeared to be a very loving family," said Henry. "She always lit up around Justin." 

Henry stayed the last time he had seen Victoria was around a week before she died.

"She acted like a basic, normal 2-year-old," said Henry. 

During testimony, Henry went on to state that he had never seen anything wrong with that child (Victoria). 

The tattoos that appear on Blakeney's body also were questioned during the witnesses testimony. 

Marsha Blakeney, Justin's mother, took the stand next for the defense, smiling to her son as she took her seat. 

"They appeared to have a loving relationship," said Marsha. 

Marsha stated "she did have what they call raccoon eyes, the week after her fall." Defense counsel clarified this was in a two week period prior to Victoria's death. 

The state chose not cross examine Marsha. 

Justin Blakeney was called to the stand with the jury not present in the courtroom. 

He was given instructions by his legal counsel and chose to not testify on his behalf before a jury. 

After Justin stepped off the stand, the defense rested.

Jury instructions are scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. with closing remarks to begin after.

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