published Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Jamaal Byrd plans to appeal ruling in Chattanooga manslaughter case

  • photo
    Jamaal Byrd talks with one of his lawyers, Ryan Hanzelik, during the opening of his trial in July. Byrd is accused of shooting and killing Terrance Etchison at the Wilcox Boulevard Kanku's in 2012.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

  • photo
    Terrance Etchison with his 6 month old daughter Haven Etchison. Etchison was killed in 2010 in a shooting at the Kanku's gas station on Wilcox Boulevard.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Earlier this year Jamaal Byrd faced a first-degree murder charge and possibly decades in prison. On Monday a judge sentenced him to one year in jail and three years of probation for a voluntary manslaughter conviction.

After the hearing, Byrd's attorney said he plans to appeal.

"I have a great deal of respect for Judge [Rebecca] Stern and her rulings," Ryan Hanzelik said. "We feel there were some issues at trial that were appealable."

Throughout the July trial, Hanzelik and his father, Fred Hanzelik, attempted to convince the jury that Terrance Etchison, 27, had a weapon and had repeatedly threatened to kill Byrd because Etchison believed Byrd had been involved with a woman while Etchison was in federal prison.

Video from the Wilcox and Tunnel Boulevard Kanku's gas station showed Byrd leave the store, walk to his car and retrieve a handgun from the trunk. Byrd and Etchison then walked toward each other; Byrd raised the weapon, shot Etchison, turned and walked away.

Byrd testified during the Monday sentencing hearing that his then 4-year-old daughter was sleeping in the back seat of his car, and he believed Etchison and his friends would shoot up his car if he tried to leave.

"It's a bad situation. It's hard to deal with; it's something I gotta deal with the rest of my life," Byrd testified. "He threatened me. I had my daughter; I was scared."

He faced a three- to six-year sentence but was eligible for probation or diversion. Stern told Byrd she believed he should serve some incarceration time for the nature of the offense.

"We have in our community way too many young men running around our streets with guns carrying out street justice," Stern said.

Ryan Hanzelik has 30 days to file a notice of appeal. Byrd is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 7, 2013, to announce whether he wants to continue with the appeal or begin serving the sentence. He served three months in jail awaiting trial and remains free on bond pending the appeal.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

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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