published Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Facebook money photo may have led to killing

Police believe a photo that a 21-year-old woman posted on Facebook of herself posing with money might have led a man to kill her over the weekend on Chattanooga's Westside.

JaMichael Donte Harris, 20, was arrested Tuesday morning after police say he tried to make Inez Burney's death look like a drowning early Saturday morning in the College Hill Courts neighborhood.

Harris is charged with criminal homicide in Burney's death. He will be in court for a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Records indicate Harris does not have a local criminal history. The incident marks the city's second nonshooting homicide of 2014 and the 13th total homicide.

Harris remains in the Hamilton County Jail on $500,000 bond.

Officers initially responded to a report of CPR in progress at 1400 Cypress Street Court about 6 a.m Saturday.

On the scene, Harris said he let himself into the apartment with a key about 4 a.m, according to an arrest affidavit.

Harris told police he then went upstairs and found Burney unresponsive in the bathtub.

But the man said he didn't start CPR until about 5:30.

Officers noticed scratches on Harris' face, and on Sunday the Hamilton County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Burney's death a homicide.

The money from the photo Burney posted on her Facebook page was not immediately found in her apartment.

"Given that Mr. Harris' story is highly suspicious and that there are time lapses and differences that he can't account for, along with physical evidence on his face that the victim scratched him during the struggle, it has been determined that Mr. Harris wanted the victim's money and he attacked her," the arrest affidavit reads.

An obituary for Burney states she died at a local hospital. The officers concluded that Harris strangled Burney and tried to stage it as a drowning.

"However, the victim's hair was not wet to [indicate] that she was taking a bath and had drown[ed]," the affidavit says.

Burney's death marks the second killing of a young woman in the College Hill Courts neighborhood in the last month.

On May 13, Keiara Patton, 20, was shot and killed inside her apartment. Taylor Satterfield, 20, is facing a criminal homicide charge in that case and also will appear in court Tuesday.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6731.

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