published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Bibbs, Ryals blame each other for slaying

  • photo
    Demetrius Bibbs has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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    Contributed photo Edward Ryals Jr. has been charged in a shooting Friday that resulted in the death of Ronald Blackmon Jr. on Sheridan Street.

Two teen defendants charged in a 2011 drive-by killing have each accused the other of pulling the trigger.

Following a hearing Tuesday, Robin Flores, defense attorney for Edward Ryals Jr., 19, said his client was asked to take responsibility for the shooting by his co-defendant.

Ryals told police he shot Ronald Blackmon in March 2011, but claimed he thought Blackmon was another person called "Lil' Rob," someone who had shot at him two nights before.

Blackmon died of a .38-caliber gunshot to the head.

Flores said it was his client's co-defendant, Demetrius Bibbs, 19, who fired the shots and tossed the gun to Ryals.

Both Bibbs and Ryals are charged with murder and aggravated assault in connection with the killing.

On Tuesday, Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern set a trial date of Nov. 6 for Ryals. Bibbs is scheduled to appear in court on the same day for another preliminary hearing in the Blackmon case.

Flores said his client was in the car with Bibbs when the shooting happened and agreed to say he did it because he didn't have a criminal record and Bibbs convinced Ryals he'd have an easier time in court.

"If you've got a group you're running with and you get into something like that, don't get talked into something because you don't have a record," Flores said.

But Bibbs' attorney, Donna Miller, said the story is quite different.

In December, Bibbs was released on his own recognizance in the case because evidence in a preliminary hearing and testimony from a third occupant of the car showed her client was driving and had no knowledge the crime was about to take place, she said.

To further complicate things, Bibbs was arrested last week on attempted murder charges in an April 24 shooting that injured Guy Wilkerson, 28. Bibbs was scheduled to be in court Tuesday on the new charges, but General Sessions Court Judge Christie Mahn Sell moved the date to May 22.

Bibbs and Ryals are being held on $500,000 bond each in the Hamilton County Jail.

about Todd South...

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 ...

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