The judge waited; the prosecutor waited; the defendant waited. And the sole witness to a 2011 homicide at a local convenience store failed to appear in court Tuesday.
That's when a murder charge was dismissed against Tyrone Carmichael, 23, in the April 5, 2011, shooting death of Cordarrius Armour, 23, at the Okie Dokie Mart at 1900 Roanoke Ave.
Police first spoke with witness Reginald Maddox on the night of the shooting, and he identified Carmichael as the shooter; but later he told police he couldn't be sure, that he'd been drinking alcohol and didn't see the shooter's face clearly.
Maddox's testimony was key to the prosecution, but there is no statute of limitations on murder, so charges could be brought at a later date if investigators uncover new evidence or witnesses.
Interior store video showed shooting victim Armour, Maddox and a woman named Acacia Baker exiting the store. Baker refused to speak with police.
Carmichael declined to comment after Tuesday's hearing. His lawyer, Jonathan Turner, said his client is "grateful that the case is over with" and he can "go on with his life now."
Prosecutors Lance Pope and Neal Pinkston filed a motion to dismiss the first-degree murder charge Thursday. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman waited until Tuesday, the scheduled start date for Carmichael's trial, before ruling on the motion.
Chattanooga police Detective Michael Wenger testified Tuesday that he's spoken with Maddox several times about the case and the importance of his testimony. Pope said he talked with Maddox earlier this month in preparation for the trial and Maddox had said he probably would be out of town and, even if he were here, he did not want to testify.
Turner said it's possible for prosecutors to go to trial simply on a single witness' testimony and without physical evidence, but the witness must be credible.
"But in this situation he had made multiple statements that diminished his credibility considerably," Turner said after the hearing.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...