An Escambia County jury found a Milton man charged with murder not guilty after taking the stand on the final day of his trial Friday and saying the shooting was an act of self-defense.
Jonathon Hobbs was charged with first-degree murder in the February 1, 2021, shooting death of 36-year-old Danny Blackmon Jr.
Hobbs is friends with a woman named Dawn Sluder, and Blackmon used to date Sluder’s daughter, Crystal Hassell.
The original story given to deputies in 2021 is that Hobbs confronted Blackmon and shot him three times.
Hobbs allegedly “shot Blackmon multiple times while standing a few feet away from him,” according to Hassell’s statement in the arrest report.
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The arrest report alleged that “Hobbs then walked next to Blackmon, looked back at (Hassell), then leaned over Blackmon’s body and fired at least two more rounds.”
However, Hobbs gave a very different account of events from the witness stand Friday, saying it was Blackmon who initiated the confrontation.
Hobbs said he and Slider “were just going to check on Hassell at the time of the shooting, but Blackmon had walked up and threatened to kill him.
“He took three steps coming toward me, pulling something out of his pocket … and it was a black object,” Hobbs said.
“I raised my gun and blacked out, I think I was in shock and I just fired,” Hobbs continued. “That’s all I did.”
During closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Amy Shea told jurors that she proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Hobbs planned to kill Blackmon by playing a call Hobbs made to his grandmother.
In the recording, Hobbs’ grandmother asked, “Jonathan, was it at least self-defense?”
Hobbes simply replied “Mmm.”
Shea said that was not the response of a person acting in self-defense.
The prosecutor said that applying common sense to the facts of the case, there was no choice but to find Hobbs guilty.
“(Hobbs’) own admission to his grandmother is the best evidence,” Shea told the jury. “I submit to you that the defendant has committed premeditated murder and you should sentence him as charged.”
However, Hobbs’ defense attorney, Randall Etheridge, argued that the conflicting evidence and lack of evidence presented at trial was enough for the jury to find a reasonable doubt in the case.
Hobbs testified that he left the scene after the shooting, knocked on someone’s door to call his girlfriend and waited for officers to arrest him.
“All the prosecution has got is sympathy from (Hassell) and whining,” Etheridge told jurors. “Who in their right mind would plan a murder and then call the police?”
And he continued, “Who in the world does that? Shall we set up an ambush, lie here and wait for you to come and shoot you? This is ridiculous.”
Jurors deliberated late Friday night before finally returning a not guilty verdict.
Benjamin Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8578.
This article originally appeared in the Pensacola News Journal: Jury finds Jonathon Hobbs not guilty of first-degree murder Pensacola