TAMPA - Truong Tran was 17 years old when his mother, Cuc Tran, was murdered. Five years later, Truong took the stand, but he never looked over at the man accused in that murder, Kenneth Jackson.
Truong talked about the last time he spoke to his mother, the night before the murder. He talked about knowing something was wrong the day she was killed when he found, "Her phone, her purse and things that she would take to work with her."
Jackson is on trial for the September, 2007 murder of Cuc Tran, a Seffner mother of three, who, according to investigators, went out for an early morning jog and never came home.
Her body was found in a burned out vehicle, in Gibsonton, 13 miles from where she lived.
At one point, on this, the first day of testimony, Jackson was smiling as he spoke with his attorney.
But that smile was gone when Assistant Sate Attorney Scott Harmon spelled out the prosecution's case in his opening statement. "It was this defendant who sliced her neck wide open and then stabbed her in the neck until she died. And there won't be any doubt in any of your minds at the end of this case that this defendant, sitting over here, is a murderer."
Several crime scene detectives, along with a deputy who discovered the burning vehicle.
The defense team tried to sow the seeds of doubt with the jury by going after state's witness Detective Nancy Hage. She photographed the crime scene from the air, and said she did not find evidence that linked Jackson to the scene.
Evidence not yet introduced at trial includes DNA that the state says ties Jackson directly to the murder.
The trial, which will resume Tuesday morning, is expected to run for about a month. If found guilty, Jackson could be sentenced to death