Nashville Asst. Dist. Attys. Ronald Dowdy and David Jones now are on point for the prosecution of Gregory Livingston, the unlicensed security guard who killed unarmed Alvin Motley Jr. during a dispute at a Kroger fueling center.
Shelby County General Sessions Court Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. on Tuesday set the next court hearing for Sept. 28.
That move capped the second hearing of the week for Livingston, who faces a second-degree murder charge for fatally shooting Motley – reportedly over loud music – at the Kroger Fuel Center at 6660 Poplar Ave. on Aug. 7.
Dowdy and Jones’ first court appearance included them fending off a defense motion to bar the release of three videos – surveillance footage from Kroger and videos that witnesses turned over to authorities.
The September hearing is expected to be, in part, a forum for the matter of Livingston’s $1.8 million bond. Defense attorney Leslie Ballin has said he will seek a reduction.
The killing of the 48-year-old Motley, who was visiting here from the Chicago area, has echoed far beyond Memphis. Motley’s family has hired renowned civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. At a Memphis rally on Monday (Aug. 16), Crump, with Motley’s father and other family members alongside, said, “Yet again, it is another unarmed, Black person killed, profiled because of the color of his skin. …
“How many more times do we have to face the senseless, unnecessary unjustifiable leaving of our children in the morgue and families with holes in their hearts?”
On Wednesday (Aug. 18), Crump will provide remarks and a call to action regarding the case during a public memorial for Motley in Hillside, Illinois. The Rev. Al Sharpton, president/founder of the National Action Network (NAN), will deliver the eulogy.
The entry of Dowdy and Jones into the case was the latest twist on the prosecution side. The first was the decision by Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich to recuse her office.
Weirich did so after learning that an investigator in her office might be a witness in the case because of an off-duty job with Allied Security, the company linked with hiring Livingston. Allied subsequently has said an unnamed subcontractor actually hired Livingston.
At Monday’s hearing, it was made known that Dist. Atty. Gen. Glenn Funk of Nashville would handle the prosecution. Ballin, who is defending Livingston along with attorney Steve Farese, told reporters afterwards that he and Funk had known each other “for more than 40 years.”
Appointed to handle the case by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference, Funk was at liberty to assign the case, which he did, choosing Dowdy and Jones.
Part of the earlier backdrop was Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner Jr. expressing public concern about “a prosecutor coming from any other place in Tennessee” having the full appreciation for “what this case means to the residents of Shelby County.”
Tuesday’s 9 a.m. hearing was delayed 90 minutes as Dowdy and Jones traveled from Nashville. Ballin seized the prosecutors’ attention when he asked Montesi to stop the release of videos associated with the case, fearing an adverse effect on potential jurors.
Montesi replied that a protective order would be needed, asking Ballin if that is what he sought. Ballin replied, “Yes, your honor.”
Dowdy told Montesi that the prosecution did not want a protective order to be put in place, arguing in part that doing so would hamper efforts to share the videos with Motley’s family. He also detailed a 2018 instance in which the district attorney’s office in Nashville released video of a white police officer fatally shooting an armed Black man from behind. The video’s release, he asserted, had not tainted the jury pool or the outcome.
Montesi, who did not rule on the motion, directed the prosecution to share with the defense the information about the Nashville scenario.
Meanwhile, Livingston, who had not completed the process for being a licensed security guard in Tennessee stays in jail. Witnesses said he and Motley exchanged words after Livingston made it known that he wanted the music turned down in the car in which Motley was a passenger.
Motley reportedly exited the car, with a beer and a cigarette, saying to Livingston that the two should discuss the matter “like men.” Witnesses told police Motley was not physically threatening and that he was not holding a weapon when Livingston pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.
During Monday’s hearing, Ballin rebutted assertions that the killing was racially motivated.
“It just so happens that the victim is an African-American male and Mr. Livingston is white,” said Ballin.
“If there are some other facts that say this was racially motivated, please tell me what they are, because I haven’t seen any which support that claim.”