published Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Tennessee Supreme Court to hear appeal kidnaping case

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 a charge of especially aggravated kidnapping. Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern sentenced him to 18 years because of his previous criminal history.

But Little could win a new trial if the higher court accepts his argument that Stern made errors in her jury instructions.

"I welcome the review of my decision," Stern said Friday. "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 Friday morning. Arguments are scheduled for September.

The defense attorney had argued that prosecutors should not have told the jury that Little had been charged with robbery in the case without telling them he had been acquitted.

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 that the errors were harmless and would not have affected the verdict. One judge dissented, saying the total errors combined challenged Little's chance to receive 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 July 10, 1998, he helped Little rob Chris Rogers at Rogers' home.

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

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

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfree or 423-757-6347.

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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