LeMario Branham got an early birthday present Tuesday -- assault and murder charges against him were dropped in Sessions Court.
Branham, who turns 25 on Friday, no longer faces charges he shot and killed 21-year-old Kenyeta Tramble on Sept. 8.
Bill Speek, Branham's attorney, complimented Chattanooga police detectives for continuing to investigate the case after his client's arrest.
"What they have found has confirmed what we've said the entire time and that's LeMario was not involved at all in this case," Speek said.
Branham was still in custody awaiting release Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
Prosecutor Lance Pope said police are actively investigating Tramble's death but he could not comment on further details of the case.
Speek added that with cooperation from investigators and prosecutors they were able to keep the case at the initial court level to be further investigated before sending charges to the grand jury for possible indictment.
"Typically when somebody is arrested on first-degree murder charges you don't see a dismissal in Sessions Court," Speek said. "So it's unusual that this happened."
Witnesses in East Lake Courts housing projects told police in September that they saw Branham running after they heard a single gunshot in the complex.
That gunshot killed Tramble, mother of a 17-month-old son. She was standing near the back porch of her 2213 E. 25th St. Court home at the time.
When arrested four days after the shooting, Branham told police he was with his girlfriend on the night of Tramble's death. The girlfriend gave conflicting statements, according to police records.
Branham was arrested along with Eric Carter and Jeremy McMillion in 2007 after the shooting death of Larry Parks, 52. The three were charged with first-degree murder.
Carter and McMillion were both found guilty of murder. Branham pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, received a six-year sentence and was released from prison in March 2009.
He has a separate case that has a pending Jan. 15 court date before Criminal Court Judge Don Poole on charges of reckless endangerment, vandalism, evading arrest and possession of a prohibited weapon.
In that case an alleged victim claims that Branham threatened her and her brother with an AK-47 assault rifle in an argument over "personal business."
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 ...