published Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Trial begins in 2010 Chattanooga slaying

Quinisha Brabson sits in Judge Rebecca Stern's court Tuesday on the first day of her trial on second degree murder charges in the April 2010 shooting death of Timothy Nichols.
Quinisha Brabson sits in Judge Rebecca Stern's court Tuesday on the first day of her trial on second degree murder charges in the April 2010 shooting death of Timothy Nichols.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

An eyewitness to a 2010 shooting testified Tuesday that she was with her fiance when he traveled from Cleveland, Tenn., to Chattanooga and was killed while trying to trade anti-anxiety pills for crack cocaine.

Lisa Greenlief, 41, said that on April 8, 2010, her fiance, Timmy Nichols, pulled up to a group of black women near the intersection of Main and Willow streets.

She said when they stopped, Quinisha Brabson, 23, came up to the car. Nichols held up a bottle of Klonopin asking if he could get some crack.

That's when, Greenlief testified, Brabson shot Nichols with a handgun.

Brabson told police she felt threatened and fired to protect herself and a female friend.

The 50-year-old Nichols lived long enough after the shooting to drive the car a few blocks from the scene before crashing into a telephone pole.

Greenlief grew frustrated on the stand as defense attorney Lori Miller questioned her about details of where Brabson stood, what was said and what Greenlief had told police shortly after the shooting.

"I can't recall what they were wearing, but I know one thing: She fired a gun and killed my fiance," Greenlief said.

While in the hospital for a broken ankle after the shooting and subsequent car crash, Greenlief told a detective that Brabson was on the passenger side of the car and shot through the window. She testified Tuesday that she was wrong about what she first told police and under a lot of stress from the shooting trauma.

Brabson's second-degree murder trial began Tuesday morning. Brabson, who is black, has an all-white jury of seven men and six women.

Prosecutor Brian Finlay told the jury during opening statements the basic facts he would show in the case, that Brabson shot Nichols in the back while he was seated in the driver's seat of his silver Cadillac SLS.

Miller didn't deny that her client killed Nichols but asked the jury to pay close attention in the trial because she didn't believe prosecutors could show that the act was murder.

In her recorded statement to police, Brabson said Nichols pulled up in his car as she and a friend were walking and started harassing them. She told him to leave them alone.

Brabson told police Nichols started to get out of his car and she felt threatened and fired her handgun, aiming at his car tire.

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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