published Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Jury won’t know defendants’ criminal histories in Chattanooga rapper murder trial

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Jurors deliberating a verdict in the murder trial of two Chattanooga men charged in the 2009 home invasion shooting death of local rapper Robert “Brikk” Brown will not know that both men pleaded guilty to similar charges in separate cases years ago.

Dexter L.Talley Jr., 31, and Alonzo “Butch” Grace, 43, were identified by an eyewitness and alleged victim as two of as many as six men who were involved in the killing of Brown, 33.

Grace pleaded guilty in 1993 to one count each of attempted first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery and robbery.

He was sentenced to 15 years, to serve 30 percent, or 5 years, due to his then-criminal history.

Talley pleaded guilty in 2002 to a charge of aggravated assault, which had originally been lodged as an aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to probation.

Multiple counts against Grace were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

Details of the crimes were not immediately available.

It’s rare in criminal cases that juries will learn of a defendant’s criminal history. In an effort to protect constitutional rights to a fair trial most information not directly related to the criminal charge at hand is excluded to prevent jurors from being prejudiced against the defendant in their deliberations.

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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