published Saturday, October 8th, 2011

3 men await trial date in Chattanooga rapper’s death

Three men accused of killing a local rapper in 2009 could get a trial date at their next Hamilton County Criminal Court hearing in November.

Two of the three men had new lawyers appointed this week after scheduling conflicts and a military deployment prevented their previous attorneys from continuing in the case.

Local defense attorney Dan Ripper will represent Julian Maurice Smith Jr., 23, in place of Justin Woodward, who is scheduled for a military deployment in early 2012. David Barrow has taken over representing Dexter Talley Jr., 30, from Hank Hill, who has scheduling issues.

Ben McGowan still represents Alonzo “Butch” Grace, 42.

On Thursday, Judge Rebecca Stern set a status hearing for Nov. 29 to allow Ripper and Barrow time to review the cases and determine a trial date, likely to be next year.

Rapper Robert “Brikk” Brown was shot to death on March 28, 2009. Another man, Josquin Jackson, also was shot and later helped identify the three suspects for police, according to Times Free Press archives.

Grace, Smith and Talley were arrested shortly after the shooting and charged with especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, attempted first-degree murder and felony murder.

Brown was part of a rap duo called Pinney Woods, used the stage name Brikk and was known by friends as Lee Lee, according to archives. He is a cousin of Talley, who was the first person arrested in the case.

Reached by phone Friday, Ripper confirmed he has taken the case for Woodward. He said he had talked with Smith but still needs to review the evidence and Woodward’s file to determine what he’ll need to do to prepare for a possible trial.

Talley and Grace are being held without bond in the Hamilton County Jail. Smith was not listed at the jail.

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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