A military jury has the case of a Robins Air Force Base airman accused of felony murder in an alleged insurance fraud scheme.
Charles Amos Wilson III, 28, is accused of conspiring with Demetrius and Infini Hardy to burn down his rented Warner Robins home Oct. 2, 2011 to collect $40,000 in insurance on the airman's belongings.
Demetrius Hardy, 27, died several days later at an Augusta burn center from injuries sustained from an explosion during the fire.
The jury, a seven-member court-martial panel, deliberated for about an hour before recessing for the day. Deliberations are expected to resume Wednesday morning.
The trial, one of three courts-martial proceedings against Wilson, is taking place at the Houston County Courthouse in Perry.
Military prosecutors contend that Wilson agreed to give Demetrius Hardy a motorcycle and some cash from the insurance claim for torching his residence at 105 Spruce St.
But military defense attorneys countered that Demetrius and Infini Hardy acted independently of Wilson and set fire to the home to cover their tracks when burglarizing it.
The men were friends through motorcycle clubs they rode in.
Infini Hardy, 36, was indicted by a Houston County grand jury on Oct. 8, 2013 on two counts of arson and one count of burglary in connection to the fire. That case is still pending, said District Attorney George Hartwig.
Hardy testified last week that she drove her husband to the alleged arson site and parked at a nearby park and waited for him. He was seen running from the house on fire by neighbors. She drove her husband, still on fire, to the Houston Medical Center. He was airlifted to Augusta.
She originally told authorities she had dropped her husband off at 2:30 a.m. at Wilson's home to play video games. She later told authorities that Wilson put her husband up to the arson and that she went along with it.
She testified that she originally lied to hospital staff, civilian and military police and her husband's parents to protect herself, her husband and Wilson.
In closing arguments Tuesday, Maj. Shad Kidd charged that Infini Hardy lied only to protect herself and only implicated Wilson after she was indicted. She changed her story, Kidd argued, two years later when faced with the possibility of incarceration and her three children being placed in foster care. She is free on $10,000 bond pending trial.
"That's a powerful motive for her to make up a story about (Wilson)," Kidd told jurors.
But Maj. Matthew Neil characterized the defense position as a "fairy tale" and a "yarn spun."
He argued that there is no other plausible explanation other than Wilson was behind that insurance fraud scheme and that he is a responsible for the death of Demetrius Hardy because Hardy acted on his instructions.
Neil noted that Wilson signed over the deed to the promised motorcycle in March 2012 to Infini Hardy. He questioned why Wilson who do that for someone who had burglarized his home. Kidd countered that Wilson's gift was an "act of humanity" in allowing his friend's widow to have the motorcycle.
Unlike a civilian jury that requires a unanimous vote of jurors in rendering a verdict, a majority vote of a military jury is required to convict Wilson of the charges against him. With seven on the jury, a majority vote is five, presiding judge Col. Vance H. Spath said from the bench.
Wilson faces life in prison without parole, or life in prison with the possibility of parole, if convicted of felony murder.