published Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Charges upgraded as Chattanooga shooting victim dies

A man released early in November on federal cocaine charges is now suspected of shooting a man to death.

Kaylon Bailey, 35, was arrested in Atlanta and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and aggravated assault. His charges have been upgraded from attempted first-degree murder to homicide after the victim died over the weekend.

Bailey is accused of shooting 35-year-old Kima Evans at 1706 Cambridge Drive on Jan. 13, hitting him numerous times in the torso area. Evans was entering his vehicle outside his mother's home when he was shot with an assault rifle, police said.

Evans was able to identify the shooter as Bailey just before he lost consciousness, according to investigators, and was admitted to Erlanger hospital. He underwent surgery before dying Sunday.

It's unclear what the motive was in the shooting, police said.

Federal prison records show Bailey had his sentence on cocaine charges reduced from 170 months to 146 months. He began his sentence in April 2002 and was released in November.

"That's more time than most people do," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd, comparing the sentence to those in the state system, which encourages alternative sentencing in many cases.

Federal sentence reforms have been put in place in recent years to address prison overcrowding and, in some cases, correct sentencing disparities between convictions for powder and rock -- or crack -- cocaine, officials said.

"It was being applied unfairly and they wanted to make it uniform between powder and rock cocaine," said Bill Killian, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

In the past, a powder cocaine user had to have 100 times as much of the drug as a crack cocaine user to fall into the same mandatory minimum sentencing range. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 signed by President Barack Obama reduced the difference to an 18-to-1 ratio.

The courts ruled to reduce sentencing disparities in convictions made before the Fair Sentencing law was put into effect.

Evans is the city's second homicide victim of the year. This time last year, there were two shootings and one homicide. To date there have been 12 shootings.

Bailey's previous bond was set at $350,000. As of Monday afternoon, the charges were not yet updated at the jail.

His court date is scheduled for today before General Sessions Court Judge David Bales.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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