Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 17, 2014

Defense begins in VSU murder trial

VALDOSTA — The prosecution rested its case Thursday, and the defense called character witnesses in the trial of the man accused of killing a Valdosta State University freshman in 2012.

Darien Joseph Meheux, 19, is on trial for the murder of Jasmine Benjamin, 17, a VSU student who was found dead Nov. 18, 2012, in a study room of her campus dorm.

Day four of the trial began with testimony from Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Mike Callahan. Callahan has been present at the prosecutor’s table throughout the proceedings, and he answered questions about the evidence collected during his investigation.

During questioning from Meheux’s lawyer, Steve Roberts, Callahan testified that the full-length gloves that Meheux is seen wearing in surveillance footage from VSU’s Georgia Hall dorm were never found. He also stated that a palm impression collected during the investigation did not match Meheux’s.

Callahan also fielded several questions from Roberts concerning the testimony given by a witness who said she saw Benjamin propped up against a pipe in a stairwell the day she died. That witness also said she talked to a black male in the doorway leading to that stairwell who stated that the girl in the stairwell was drunk.

That witness did not identify Meheux as the man she saw and spoke to when investigators showed her a photo array that included Meheux’s photograph. The witness did, however, identify Meheux as that man during her testimony Tuesday.

The prosecution rested its case against Meheux after Callahan’s testimony, at which point Roberts made a motion for acquittal, arguing that the state had not provided physical evidence to convict his client. Southern Circuit Judge James Tunison said he believed sufficient evidence existed to continue with a jury trial.

Roberts called several defense witnesses to speak to Meheux’s character, including a pastor, a former girlfriend and other acquaintances mainly from the Lawrenceville area.

Defense witness Nita Joshi said she had attended Central Gwinett High School with Meheux and Benjamin and considered both of them good friends. She testified she had never seen Meheux become physically violent with Benjamin or any other girl.

During cross-examination, Assistant Southern District Attorney Tracy Chapman presented an enlarged copy of text messages exchanged between Joshi and Benjamin. The messages from Benjamin to Joshi stated that Meheux would not leave her alone and was frequently trying to enter Georgia Hall to attempt speaking to her.

“I have to be on edge in my own damn building. Not even my home is safe,” texted Benjamin to Joshi.

Joshi responded with a message advising her to tell an officer if she did not feel safe.

Defense witness Corey Hardwick, a VSU student, said he was acquainted with Meheux. Hardwick testified that he saw Benjamin exiting Georgia Hall sometime between 9-11 p.m., Nov. 17. Chapman said the medical examiner placed Benjamin’s death at sometime between 3-6 p.m. that same day, but Hardwick was adamant that he had seen her.

“Are you saying that the medical examiner is lying,” said Chapman.

“Must be,” said Hardwick.

Meheux’s trial continues today, and could go to the jury.

Text Only
Local News
  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-man_hunt001.jpg Dump truck thieves sought

    Authorities continued searching for suspects Monday evening connected to a stolen dump truck involved in a chase with law-enforcement.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • City workers strike natural gas main

    A gas leak evacuated a neighborhood Monday when workers struck a natural gas main.

    July 29, 2014

  • education.jpg Desegregation status approved

    Forty-three years after an initial lawsuit was filed to force the system to desegregate, Valdosta City Schools has officially been approved for “unitary status.”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results