Witness threat case goes to grand jury

Witness threat case goes to grand jury

February 19th, 2011 by Todd South in News

Charges against a Chattanooga man of intimidating a witness in an attempted murder case were sent to the grand jury Friday.

Leon "Big Poppa" Holmes, 47, was arrested Jan. 31 on charges he threatened a witness in his upcoming trial on charges of attempted first-degree murder.

Court records show Holmes is charged in the shooting of Cecil Stodghill Sr. on Feb. 27, 2010, Holmes' birthday.

Police say that, while out on bond in January, Holmes walked up to a witness in his upcoming trial and told him not to show up in court. According to police, Holmes warned the witness that "if he did, him or his 'boys' would take care of him," and then drew a line across his own throat.

Stan Lanzo, who worked for nearly three decades in the Hamilton County District Attorney's office before going into private practice, said allowing defendants to intimidate witnesses "would corrupt the whole system."

Witness intimidation is rare, but can come in many forms, Lanzo said.

"If the reaction of the witness is interpreted as a threat to them -- [from] driving by them or threatening them -- then the court can intervene immediately," he said.

According to the February 2010 arrest report, a witness told police Holmes walked into the LG Lounge at 830 Dodson Ave., shot Stodghill twice in the chest and drove away in a white Cadillac Escalade.

Police tracked down Holmes at another location. They found an empty holster in his vehicle but no weapon.

Holmes' previous arrests include aggravated assault charges in 2009 and drug charges in 1997, records show.

His next court date, on the attempted first-degree murder charge, is Tuesday.