Police have evidence that Langdon Strickland borrowed a silver Nissan Sentra on the morning a 29-year-old Chattanooga man was shot and killed.
They suspect there was gunplay, perhaps inside the car between Strickland, also 29, and Darrell Lane.
Witnesses saw Lane jog, bleeding along Tunnel Boulevard. They heard gunshots and saw a silver Nissan Sentra backing away from the scene of the crime.
No one, however, saw Strickland with a gun.
At least no one police have interviewed so far.
On Tuesday sit-in Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Kevin Wilson sent a criminal homicide and aggravated assault charge against Strickland to the grand jury based on probable cause evidence. Wilson, the Collegedale city judge, was sitting in for Hamilton County General Sessions Judge David Bales.
Prosecutor Cameron Williams called witnesses who heard the shots and saw the car. He also called Eve Jones, who loaned the car to Strickland only to have it returned with bullet holes and fragments and loose jewelry beads inside.
Lane often wore a beaded cross on a necklace.
The prosecutor called Patrick Dixon, a lifelong friend of Strickland's, who told police shortly after the Aug. 5, 2012, homicide that he'd talked with Strickland and his friend said that the whole deal was a "messed up situation."
Dixon didn't want to know more, so he didn't ask any questions.
Chattanooga police investigator Christopher Blackwell testified that he found four .380-caliber shell casings at the scene. He followed Lane's blood trail from a few houses down Tunnel Boulevard and found Lane, dead in a flower bed at 222 Tunnel Blvd.
But defense attorney Bill Speek pressed just how much the detective could prove at this point.
"Is it fair to say you don't know what happened in that car?" Speek asked.
"I don't know exactly what happened in the car," Blackwell replied.
Photographs show that the trajectory of one of the shots meant it could have come from the rear of the vehicle or back seat.
Speek speculated that Lane could have been robbing Strickland and another man who witnesses said was with the pair that night -- Jamel Parker.
But Blackwell has been unable to find Parker.
"Do you have in your possession right now any evidence that puts a gun in Mr. Strickland's hand?" Speek asked.
"Not in my possession," Blackwell said, adding that evidence has been submitted to the state crime lab for examination.
Speek argued that his client deserved a lower bond and that the aggravated assault and weapons possession charges be dismissed.
But Wilson said the assault charge stood. The judge dismissed the weapons charge but would not lower the bond.
Williams explained that at the time of the crime Strickland was in violation of probation for a failure to appear charge on a previous aggravated assault and he was arrested by U.S. Marshals in College Park, Ga., about a month after the shooting.
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 ...