published Friday, July 13th, 2012

Murder charges dismissed in separate slayings

  • photo
    Judge Barry Steelman is seen in this file photo.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Two men saw murder charges against them dismissed and one man pleaded guilty to a drunken driving vehicular homicide charge all within about 15 minutes in the same Criminal Court on Thursday.

Prosecutors asked Judge Barry Steelman to dismiss murder charges against Devante Stoudemire, 20, and Tyrone Carmichael, 23, in back-to-back hearings. Following those two hearings Bryant Houston, 38, pleaded guilty to DUI, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of vehicular homicide.

Witness dies

Steelman's ruling on Stoudemire's charges allows for prosecutors to bring charges again if they find new evidence in the Nov. 19, 2010, shooting death of JerMichael Richardson.

A key witnesses died in a Florida car crash as Stoudemire awaited trial. Police arrested Stoudemire along with two other men on a separate murder charge in the July 2 shooting death of Steven Mosley, 38.

Stoudemire, a member of the street gang Gangsta Disciples, is being held on a $1.7 million bond in the Mosley case.

The judge said he would rule on other charges against Carmichael on Tuesday, when his trial was to have been held.

Changing testimony

In Carmichael's case, an eyewitness who refused to talk with police may have hampered the investigation.

Video footage from the Okie Dokie Market at 1900 Roanoke Ave. shows two people standing near shooting victim Cordarrius Armour, 23.

Those two people were identified as Reginald Maddox and Acacia Baker. Police investigators tried multiple times to interview Baker, who refused.

Maddox identified Carmichael as the shooter but later recanted and told the investigator he was intoxicated the night of the shooting and "he will not or cannot" identify Carmichael as the shooter, according to court documents.

He added that he did not testify in Carmichael's preliminary hearing because "nobody asked."

For that reason, prosecutors could not move forward in the trial, according to documents.

"If citizens who witness homicides don't come forward, then we are hindered in prosecution," prosecutor Neal Pinkston said.

Pleading guilty

Prosecutors say Houston slammed his 1997 Lincoln Continental into the 1995 Ford Mustang that held Katherine Spalding and John Moore and the couple's daughter, Addison Moore, on Hixson Pike on May 27, 2010.

Houston told police he'd drank three 22-ounce Bud Lights before the crash. His blood alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal 0.08 limit.

Addison Moore died two days later.

Houston pleaded guilty Thursday to all of the four counts against him in exchange for not being sentenced consecutively.

He is in custody, and his sentencing date is scheduled for Oct. 8. He faces up to 12 years in prison on the homicide charge.

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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