Slaying suspect Skyy Mims approaches the podium in a Whitfield County court Monday afternoon.
DALTON, Ga. — The attorney for Skyy Raven Marie Mims says investigators nabbed the wrong woman.
Mims, an aspiring model and rapper and dancer and fashion designer, was charged with the murder of a Dalton convenience store clerk in March. Members of the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office say Mims stabbed 37-year-old Dahyabhai Kalidas Chaudhari in the back, snatched cash and lottery tickets from the Kanku's Express and bolted to Atlanta.
But on Monday afternoon, after Mims' first court appearance since her arrest, her lawyer said Mims was not involved in the crime. She just happened to be in the area.
Mims, 21, had recently moved from Detroit to Atlanta to make connections in the entertainment industry and met some friends in Whitfield County around the time of Chaudhari's death.
The sheriff's office released surveillance footage from the convenience store on the night of the murder. The footage shows a tall, black woman with blonde hair in the store.
But Mims' attorney said the woman in the footage is not clearly her. She said a different woman, who happens to look like Mims, was actually in the store, and she plans to prove it when the case goes to trial Nov. 3.
"I have another person who is a dead ringer for Skyy," said Carla Marable, a Michigan attorney whom Mims' family hired in June.
Before then, Public Defender Brandon Sparks handled Mims' case, but Mims' mother criticized the appointed attorney, saying she needed a lawyer from outside Whitfield County to represent her daughter. Meanwhile, Mims waited in jail, without bond.
In March, Sparks asked to push a bond hearing back so he could gather evidence before arguing that Mims should be allowed to leave jail prior to her trial. Sparks said at the time he wasn't sure when the hearing could unfold. In the end, it never did -- not under the public defender's office.
But Marable, Mims and Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston were in Whitfield County Superior Court on Monday to formally read Mims' charges -- a hearing demanded by Georgia law -- and to set the trial in November. Marable also asked Judge Jack Partain to let Mims out of jail on bond.
Mims' mother, Ylet Noelle Patterson, plans to rent an apartment in town, so her daughter can stay in the area.
"Even though she is not a member of this community," Marable told Partain, "she could remain in this community."
The judge declined Marable's request, pointing out that Patterson has not actually paid for an apartment yet.
"She may be a flight risk," he said.
After the hearing, Patterson said she still plans to rent an apartment for Mims, in case Partain changes his mind.
"We know Skyy is innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt," she said. "I would drop everything and get running (to help her)."
Mims' arrest five months ago sparked international media attention because she seems like an unusual murder defendant. She graduated fifth in her high school class and maintained an active social media presence before she allegedly killed Chaudhari.
Her YouTube page is filled with videos of her rapping, modeling, advertising an upcoming clothing line, strutting down a runway, applying makeup and pop-n-locking.
Some family members were in the courtroom Monday. Candace Patterson, Mims' cousin, traveled from South Carolina to Georgia on Sunday night. As Mims entered the courtroom in a red jail jumpsuit, her arms and ankles shackled, Patterson began to cry.
"She's an honors student," Patterson said after the hearing. "She's never been in trouble... In. Her. Life."
Contact Staff Writer Tyler Jett at email@example.com or at 423-757-6476.