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A 23-year-old Chattanooga woman was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison for a 2010 homicide near the intersection of Main and Willow streets.
Quinisha Brabson was found guilty of second-degree murder following a February trial. Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern sentenced Brabson to 16 years.
She had faced a 15- to 25-year sentence but received a lower amount of time based on her low level of criminal history, a factor required for consideration under Tennessee law.
Brabson has been in jail since her arrest the night of the shooting, April 8, 2010. She will receive credit toward her sentence. Under state guidelines she will have to serve the entire sentence but can receive a 15 percent reduction for good behavior, said Donna Miller, one of her two attorneys.
"She didn't shoot until [Nichols] opened the car door after he had pulled over to her and after she had told him she wasn't a drug dealer and didn't have any crack," Miller said. "She panicked and fired only once, not trying to kill anyone. She just wanted to be safe and left alone. She has always expressed remorse."
During the trial, witnesses for both sides told somewhat different stories about how Brabson came to shoot and kill 50-year-old Cleveland, Tenn., resident Timothy Nichols.
Both sides agreed that Nichols had traveled with friends from Cleveland to Chattanooga to buy drugs.
Brabson told police that Nichols drove up to her and her friends, who were walking home, and asked for crack cocaine. When she said they didn't sell drugs she said he got angry and she feared for her safety.
But passengers in Nichols' car told police that Brabson approached Nichols' Cadillac SLS and fired without warning.
Nichols drove about a block away and slammed into a telephone pole. He died of injuries related to the gunshot wound shortly afterward.
Physical evidence presented at trial showed that the bullet that left Brabson's handgun and killed Nichols entered from the rear of the driver's side rear window and through the headrest before striking Nichols.
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 ...