published Friday, May 18th, 2012

Chattanooga man's kidnapping conviction appeal headed to Tennessee Supreme Court

The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a Chattanooga man convicted of kidnapping his partner in a home invasion robbery and forcing the man to eat crack cocaine and dog feces.

Jereme Little has been in state prison since his 2008 conviction on especially aggravated kidnapping. Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern sentenced him to 18 years due to his previous criminal history.

But Little could win a new trial if the higher court reverses Stern's decision due to errors in her jury instructions.

"I welcome the review of my decision," Stern said today. "It's difficult if you get reversed but you know, that's the way the system works."

Little's attorney, Jeffrey Schaarschmidt, said he'd drafted a letter to his client to tell him the news, which Schaarschmidt learned this morning.

The defense attorney first argued that Little's acquittal on the original robbery charges should have been told to the jury and that prosecutors should not have been allowed to tell the jury about the robbery without telling them about the acquittal.

But Stern ruled that the jury did not need to be informed of her decision to grant the acquittal at the end of the trial but before the jury deliberations.

Schaarschmidt appealed the decision, which reached the Court of Criminal Appeals in 2010. That court said there were errors but the errors were harmless and would not have affected the verdict. One judge dissented, saying the total errors combined challenged Little's chance at a fair trial.

The case has had a lengthy history even before it entered the court.

Demetrius Grayson, Little's accomplice, testified in the trial that on a July 10, 1998 he helped Little rob Chris Rogers at the man's home.

But during the robbery, Grayson said that Little wanted to kill the victims. Grayson walked out of the crime and was promptly forced at gunpoint to a house on Davenport Street, where Little tied him up in a chair, beat him and forced him to eat crack cocaine and dog feces.

Little escaped and, seven years later, told Chattanooga police Detective Bill Phillips what happened.

Arguments are scheduled for September in the Little appeal.

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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