Clement “C.J.” Amos’ family and friends filed out of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse on Friday with a renewed belief in justice after the conviction of the man who gunned down Amos as he was trying to help neighbors.
Corlious Dyson, 31, was convicted of second-degree murder in Amos’ Aug. 26, 2012, death. The jury deliberated just over two hours before returning with the 11-1 verdict.
State District Judge Ed Rubin set sentencing for Dec. 14; the sentence in Louisiana for second-degree murder is automatic life in prison with no chance of parole. Dyson was escorted to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center after the verdict.
“Justice was served after three long years,” Amos’ widow, Kelli, said as the family left the courthouse. “Our entire family is satisfied.”
Dyson shot and killed Amos as he came to the aid of female neighbors. One of those neighbors, frightened by a man outside her door about 4 that morning, had called Kelli Amos for help.
C.J. Amos, who lived across the street with his wife and children, was unarmed when he confronted Dyson. Amos was shot on the second floor of a four-unit apartment at 126 Hummingbird Lane in Lafayette, near West Broussard Road.
By the time Kelli Amos ran to the apartment, Dyson had fled and C.J. Amos was lying mortally wounded at the foot of the stairs. He was 33 years old and the father of three.
Jury selection started Tuesday, followed by three days of testimony leading to the verdict delivered about 4:40 p.m. Friday. Dyson did not testify in his defense.
On Thursday, the jury heard harrowing audio from a 911 call made by Jadye Lange, one of the women in the apartment complex who testified Dyson pointed a gun in her face before he shot Amos. The recording captures Lange’s fear and also the grief of a woman outside Lange’s apartment mourning Amos’ death.
In the end, three sets of evidence led to Dyson’s conviction: DNA analysis and two witnesses who identified Dyson in photo lineups.
DNA expert Ronald Acton, the only witness to testify in Dyson’s defense, said Friday morning the Acadiana Crime Lab might lack the scientific standards that other labs have. He said the Acadiana Crime Lab, which performs forensic tests for investigators in eight parishes, had no doctorate-level scientists to sign off on the work performed there.
On Wednesday, crime lab analyst Claire Guidry testified that plastic gloves found at the murder scene — which witnesses recalled seeing the gunman wear — had a mixture of DNA, meaning more than one person wore the gloves. Guidry said that in cases where there’s more than one DNA contributor, there cannot be a definite match to one person. So she employed another method, one that excluded other people. Guidry said the tests she ran indicated the chances of the DNA on one of the gloves not belonging to Dyson was 1 in 60 million.
Dyson’s attorney, Chad Ikerd, focused much of his client’s defense on the DNA analysis, which he said was flawed by the procedure used to test mixed DNA samples.
Ikerd also said the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office conducted a “Goldilocks investigation,” with detectives choosing not to investigate two other suspects who allegedly didn’t fit their profile. Ikerd also found fault in the procedure used in the photo lineup, where two women who saw the shooter that morning picked his photo from among five other photos.
In closing arguments Friday, Ikerd questioned why Lange and another witness, two women who picked Dyson out of a photo lineup, were not asked to identify Dyson in the courtroom.
Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Simon said there was a good reason for not having the women point out Dyson: They were scared.
“Y’all saw Jadye (Lange). She was terrified,” Simon said, alluding to a point in the trial where Lange had to stand near Dyson. “He’s the one who pointed the gun in her face.”