ATLANTA - After a week and a half of testimony and evidence, a jury found Henry Mager guilty on five counts, including the murder of Terry Lee. Tuesday, the final day of the trial, ended with defense proofs and closing arguments. Only one person testified, and Mager, who was scheduled to testify, didn't take the stand.
Attorney Ronald Bayot counseled Mager to testify, but said Mager did not feel comfortable taking the stand and believed his attorney represented him well. Therefore, instead of calling Mager to the stand Bayot allowed Christopher Kwapis - who was allegedly involved in the case B&Es, possession of stolen property, and was a suspect in Lee's death - to testify as the defense proof.
Kwapis said a variety of lies Mager told would have tied Kwapis to B&Es and Lee's death.
News Photo by Emily Siegmon
Henry Mager is led away by Montmorency Sheriff deputies while his attorney, Ronald Bayot, looks on following the jury’s guilty verdict in the murder of Terry Lee on Tuesday.
"I never helped Henry break in ... Henry is lying," Kwapis said.
However, Kwapis' testimony was examined due to a prior charge of perjury, where he lied about seeing Mager the day after the murder. However, on Thursday Kwapis said he was telling the truth and did not have any contact with Mager during the times in question.
Prosecutor Terrie Case said phone records proved Kwapis and Mager did not have any contact after Oct. 2, 2011. She also said Kwapis' testimony was consistent with later conversations about the case and he was excluded from murdering Lee and the B&Es.
"Henry Mager was the only person in possession of the weapon that killed Terry Lee ... We can't find the gun, but it's not from a lack of trying," Case said. "The gun stolen from (Don) Ehlers was used to shoot Terry Lee. There is absolutely no one else that could have had that gun that killed Terry on Oct. 22."
Closing arguments lasted longer than expected, Case recalled "highlights" of testimonies and evidence. Bayot questioned the credibility of circumstantial evidence, the missing gun that was used to kill Lee, Mager's state of mind, and the truthfulness of multiple testimonies.
"Seven experts can't directly link Henry to the murder, that creates doubt, reasonable doubt," Bayot said. "Henry did not kill his uncle Terry."
Case also had an opportunity to rebuttal Bayot's closing remarks in an attempt to prove Mager was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We've been building a wall of information that the defense can't get over ... That wall reads that Henry Mager is guilty of murder," Case said.
The jury found Mager guilty of five different counts - homicide, safe breaking, unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle, felony firearms, and home invasion of the first degree. Mager's sentencing will take place Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. in the Montmorency County Courthouse.
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.