published Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Chattanooga: Defense attorney claims prosecutors have no evidence against his client in rapper’s death

  • photo
    Ben McGowan, attorney for Alonzo "Butch" Grace, presents opening arguments in Judge Rebecca Stern's courtroom in the case of Robert "Brikk" Brown. Dexter Talley, Jr. and Alonzo "Butch" Grace have been charged in the 2009 killing.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

An attorney defending one of two Chattanooga men against murder charges in the 2009 death of local rapper Robert “Brikk” Brown told the jury in opening statements this afternoon that prosecutors will rely solely on testimony and have no physical evidence against his client.

“The district attorney has no evidence,” said David Barrow, attorney for Dexter Talley Jr. “The evidence is going to come from that stand.”

But prosecutor Neal Pinkston told the jury in his opening statement that Talley visited the home of Harold Calloway, where Brown and a friend were playing cards and getting haircuts the day before and shortly before the actual home invasion and robbery that killed Brown and injured another man.

“You will here on the 28th of March, 2009, a robbery occurred, two people were robbed,” Pinkston said. “In Tennessee, if you set out to commit a robbery and somebody is killed you are guilty of felony murder.”

Talley, 31, and Alonzo “Butch” Grace, 43, face charges of especially aggravated robbery, attempted murder and first-degree murder in Brown's March 28, 2009 slaying.

A third co-defendant, 23-year-old Julian Maurice Smith Jr. faces a separate trial on June 18.

Smith has been free on bond since December and is in the audience of the trial today.

It took attorneys three hours to select a jjury Tuesday morning.

Five white men, four white women, three black men and two black women comprise the jury.

Police found Brown’s body face down in a house plant at a 3929 apartment B Webb Oaks Court.

Witnesses told police that at least three masked men entered the home and demanded money.

The robbers bound the hands and ankles of Brown and another victim, Josquin Jackson, with duct tape.

Jackson was shot but lived and is expected to testify in the trial, which attorneys told Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern they hope to finish by Friday.

Brown used the stage name “Brikk” and had worked alongside nationally known hip-hop performers such as OutKast, 8Ball & MJG and New Beginnings, which featured Chattanooga native Usher Raymond.

Prior to his death, Brown and his rap partner Travis Moore had signed a music contract with Black Ice Records of Richmond, Calif., a subsidiary of Universal Music Group.

For more see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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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