published Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

'Murder charge dismissed' and more news from Chattanooga police and courts

Murder charge dismissed

At the request of prosecutors, a Sessions Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a murder charge against one of three men arrested in a Jan. 12 homicide on Swan Road.

Judge Gary Starnes dismissed charges of first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy against Devante Lebron Ragland, 19, after prosecutor David Schmidt told the judge that without two witnesses he couldn't show probable cause.

Prosecutors can file charges against Ragland at a later date if more evidence or testimony becomes available.

Co-defendants Christopher Jennings, 19, and Kristopher Lebron Bell, 20, had a preliminary hearing Friday. Judge David Bales bound charges against the two men to the grand jury.

The three men were arrested in the shooting death of Timothy Bumpass. Bell and Jennings are being held on a $500,000 bond each in the Hamilton County Jail.


Man charged in sex trafficking

An Atlanta man will face federal charges he was involved in a sex trafficking ring after a local arrest.

Khari Matthew "King Black" Troutman was arrested on related charges last month on kidnapping, promoting prostitution and domestic assault after a woman told police he transported her from Silver Spring, Md., to Chattanooga to prostitute her.

She said she'd agreed to the prostitution but when she wanted to quit and return home he held her against her will. She used a stranger's cellphone in Chattanooga to call police.

State charges against Troutman were dismissed Tuesday when the victim failed to show for the second time for a preliminary hearing but Troutman faces a federal hearing Wednesday here.

It is Times Free Press policy not to identify alleged victims of sex crimes.


Slaying case sent to grand jury

A Sessions Court judge on Tuesday sent murder charges against a man who police say killed his live-in girlfriend to the grand jury.

Judge Christie Mahn Sell found enough probable cause against Dennis Weyers, 46, to move the charges forward after a preliminary hearing.

Weyers called 911 on Dec. 26, 2012, after waking to find Robin Sanders face down and unresponsive in their shared bed at the couple's 103 Cross St. home.

He told police he was the only person with Sanders from Dec. 23 until her death. Police found blood in the bathroom using bodily fluid recognition equipment. Sanders' body had multiple bruises.

Weyers changed his story when interviewed by police and could not explain Sanders' bruises.

Sell declined a request to lower Weyers' bond, which remains at $800,000 while he is in custody at the Hamilton County Jail.


East Ridge police seek robber

East Ridge police are asking for the public's help in locating a man who robbed a convenience store Monday night.

A man brandished a gun after entering the Kangaroo Convenience Store, 4011 Ringgold Road, at 9 p.m. He fled with money from the cash register, lottery tickets and cigarette packs, said Cpl. R. Wade in a released statement.

The man, who was described as black, was last seen fleeing in a white older model car, he said.

Anyone with any information can contact East Ridge police at 423-867-3718, dispatch at 423-622-1725 or use a confidential tip line at 423-867-0016.


County employee accused of theft

A Hamilton County employee faces a charge of theft over $1,000 for reportedly taking numerous computers belonging to the Hamilton County Health Department.

"The investigation identified Hamilton County Health employee Rickie Flerl as a suspect, and evidence was established linking him to the theft of departmental assets," Janice Atkinson, public information officer for Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, said in a released statement.

Flerl's job title is listed as a skilled craft specialist. In 2011, he was listed as making $36,340, according to records.

Flerl, 53, is set to appear Feb. 19 before Hamilton County General Sessions Court Judge Gary Starnes.

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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