Prosecution introduces initial police statements
As they continue to prosecute a 34-year-old man accused of double homicide at a 2016 house party, state attorneys Friday introduced an early interview from an inconsistent witness they say explains Stephen Mobley’s motive.
One day after the Sept. 5, 2016, shooting on Pinewood Drive that killed Jasmine Hines, 22, and Rashaud Taylor, 23, Chattanooga police spoke with Jeremy Cotton about what sparked an argument that occurred shortly before the violence.
“Do you know what that was over?” Chattanooga detective Christopher Blackwell asked. “P——,” Cotton replied. According to the interview, Cotton said Hines and another victim who survived that night, Zirrshaddia Scott, were arguing with Mobley over vomit. After a day of drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and taking Xanax at the Pinewood Drive home and Chattanooga Billiard Club, Scott drank a warm beer and threw up in a kitchen sink early in the morning.
That upset Mobley, who’d been seen throughout the night with a 9 mm gun, prosecutors said.
When prosecutors began their case Wednesday, they told jurors that Mobley lashed out because he felt disrespected by the females. But the eyewitnesses didn’t identify Mobley as the shooter. Scott, for instance, testified she passed out around the time of the argument and woke up with gunshot wounds. Others, such as Cotton, gave inconsistent statements, prosecutors said.
David Reed, who lived at the home, said he left when Mobley got mad about the vomit and ordered everybody out. Reed said he walked down the road to Cotton’s house and heard gunshots but then passed out.
According to the interview that prosecutors played Friday, Cotton said Reed was in tears when he arrived. Then, two minutes later, Cotton told Blackwell in the interview, they saw Mobley on the street.
Earlier this week on the witness stand, Cotton said he could not recall telling Blackwell that and instead testified that he saw a “figure.” Cotton added he was concerned about retaliation.
After the shooting, Mobley’s aunt drove him to a motel on Lee Highway around 6:30 a.m., according to court testimony. Mobley posted a video to Facebook proclaiming his innocence and then turned himself in to authorities on Sept. 7, 2016.
Mobley, who has pleaded not guilty to the shooting, faces two counts of firstdegree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony.
His public defenders pushed back Friday, saying Chattanooga officers made a rush to judgment by seeking an arrest warrant for Mobley before testing any of his clothes, which came back negative for gunshot residue. Police based that warrant, in part, on an interview with Reed, whose father testified that Mobley told him in a phone call not to speak to investigators.
Defenders added police didn’t collect surveillance footage from a traffic camera on Pinewood Drive that could have illuminated what happened after the shooting. They also have challenged the prosecution’s narrative that Mobley felt disrespected, saying Reed tried to sexually proposition Hines during the party.
Defenders made another argument Friday: Other people had more motivation to hurt Hines, who spoke with police about her father’s unsolved homicide from March 2016 and feared retaliation.
“Do you know, through your investigation, that Michael Hines was shot in the left temple just like his daughter?” Assistant Public Defender Steve Brown asked Blackwell.
Hines also broadcast her location throughout the night on a Facebook live video, defenders said.
The trial continues today in Hamilton County Criminal Court before Judge Barry Steelman.