published Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Defendant in Chattanooga slaying case to represent himself

One of four co-defendants in a 2010 murder case decided Wednesday that he will represent himself in his December trial.

John "Cut Throat" Simpson, 32, told Criminal Court Judge Don Poole he waived his right to an attorney for a trial on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the June 29, 2010, home invasion shooting death of Bernard Hughes, 46.

Poole appointed local attorney John Allen Brooks as "elbow counsel." Brooks will sit with Hughes during his trial to offer advice but not try the case.

Three other men await separate trials in Hughes' shooting death. All have been charged with murder and are being held in jail. The order of trials should remain the same.

Unjolee Tremone Moore, 26, has a evidence hearing scheduled for Nov. 19.

Harold "Bam" Francis Butler III, 32, has a hearing scheduled for Oct. 22 to request his bond be reduced.

Steven James Ballou, 33, has a status hearing scheduled for Nov. 19 after his trial scheduled for Wednesday was canceled.

Prosecutors allege that Moore drove the getaway car as the other three men rushed into Hughes' 4417 Oakwood Drive home, shooting him and wounding Timothy Westfield.

Moore faces felony murder charges because of his participation in the alleged robbery that resulted in the death of a person.

Attorneys for the men sought to have the cases dismissed when they discovered evidence missing from the case — a cellphone not collected by Chattanooga police at the request of then-Lt. Edwin McPherson.

Internal affairs investigators recommended that McPherson be disciplined for untruthfulness because he told investigators he didn't remember telling another officer not to confiscate the phone.

A police chief panel overturned the investigators recommendation, saying the facts didn't show that McPherson lied.

Detectives believe McPherson's niece was involved in setting up the Hughes robbery, according to police documents. Phone records show he was talking with her before, during and after the homicide.

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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