Man acquitted in 2012 Portland murder

Rodney Jones' defense attorney calls the case self-defense

Durell Gee Davis was found dead near a tavern in NE Portland Oct. 2012. (KOIN)
Durell Gee Davis was found dead near a tavern in NE Portland Oct. 2012. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A 37-year-old man was acquitted this week of murder, in what his defense attorney describes as a case of “absolute self-defense.”

Rodney Jones, 33, shown in a jail booking photo, was acquitted of murder.
Rodney Jones, 33, shown in a jail booking photo, was acquitted of murder.

Rodney Lamont Jones has been on trial since Dec. 9 for the murder of 42-year-old Durell Gee Davis.

On Wednesday, he was acquitted of murdering Davis, but was convicted on two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Portland police arrested Jones January 24, 2013, but a grand jury didn’t indict him until March. When they did, he was charged with on one count of murder and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm.

The investigation started Oct. 15, 2012 when police responded to Northeast 92nd Place and Glisan Street on reports of a shooting. Davis was found dead in the street. The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office said he died as a result of a gunshot wound.

Defense attorney John E. Gutbezahl said the case centered on a lover’s triangle involving Davis, Jones and another woman.

“Davis had indicated that if he ran into Jones there would be problems,” Gutbezahl said.

Before the shooting, Jones had plans to go over to the woman’s house, but was unable to reach her by phone, Gutbezahl said. He headed over to her house when he came across Davis near the Top of the Hill Tavern. Part of the encounter between the two men was recorded on surveillance video.

Durell Gee Davis, 42, shown in a photo released by Portland Police.
Durell Gee Davis, 42, shown in a photo released by Portland Police.

Gutbezahl said the video shows Davis dropping a bag and walking toward Jones — who proceeded to quickly turn and start walking and then run away. Jones had been told by the woman that Davis was violent and had once stabbed her ex-husband, Gutbezahl said.

The last thing shown on the video is Davis stepping off the curb with his hands raised in an appearance that could be perceived as threatening, Gutbezahl said. The shooting itself was not recorded on video.

According to Gutbezahl, Davis was threatening Jones as Jones tried to flee the escalating situation. Jones took out a pistol and fired two warning shots. Gutbezahl said that Jones saw something “kind of shiny” in Davis’ hand and thought it could have been a knife. The object was actually a cellphone, but because it was dark, Jones “had reasonable belief” that it could have been a weapon, Gutbezahl said.

As Davis continued to approach, Jones fired two more times from a distance of about three feet, Gutbezahl said. Both rounds struck Davis.

When detectives caught up with Jones and took him into custody, he was questioned. At first, Jones denied he was in the area of the shooting. Police told Jones that they had evidence that put him at the scene. He changed his story and admitted that he was there, but claimed nothing happened. Detectives gave Jones the chance to tell them about the self-defense theory but Gutbezahl said when Jones was being questioned, he didn’t know if he had the legal right to shoot someone in self-defense because of his past criminal record, and if he would be believed.

Jones will be sentenced Friday morning and could face up to two and a half years in prison for being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, Gutbezahl said. He said that Jones will get credit for time served and good time. Jones has been in custody since Jan. 24, 2013.

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