published Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Fugitive on Hamilton County's most-wanted list apprehended

More than three months after police say he threw a bar stool into a window, causing it to shatter on a 3-year-old girl, a longtime Chattanooga criminal is back behind bars without bond while awaiting a Monday court date.

Authorities detained Derrick Clay, 28, Saturday at the Hamilton County Jail, records show. Before his arrest, Clay spent several weeks as one of the sheriff's office's 12 Most Wanted.

In addition to three charges of felony reckless endangerment stemming from the bar stool incident, he is charged with violating his probation on charges of attempted first-degree murder, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.

On the early morning of March 17, Shanica Smith called police and said Clay had come to her home at 3407 Wilcox Blvd. and knocked on the door while looking for his girlfriend.

When Smith told him he couldn't come inside, Clay threatened to break her front window.

Though Smith warned him that her 3-year-old daughter was asleep on the couch in front of the window, Clay grabbed a wooden stool that was sitting outside and hurled it at the window, another woman who was in the house told police.

According to an arrest affidavit, "enormous" shards of glass fell onto the girl but she avoided serious injuries.

Clay jumped into a vehicle and drove off toward the tunnel on Wilcox Boulevard.

For more than three months he eluded arrest, but his photo appeared around the area because of his status as a most-wanted fugitive.

Court records show Clay's local adult criminal history dates back to May 2004, the month after he turned 18.

Clay pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after he was accused of attempted first-degree murder in 2009, records show.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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