Attorney for man accused in deaths of Chattanooga woman, 7-year-old says location of crime unknown

Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Gabriel Fitzgerald Boykins is being held on a $700,000 bond in connection with the 2020 murders of Tamara and Aquarious Church.
Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Gabriel Fitzgerald Boykins is being held on a $700,000 bond in connection with the 2020 murders of Tamara and Aquarious Church.

An attorney for a man accused of killing a Chattanooga mother and her 7-year-old daughter argues his client should not be required to disclose a possible alibi until prosecutors determine the location of the deaths.

The state has not identified where Tamara Church, 40, and Aquarious Church were killed almost four years after their remains were found, Samuel Hudson, the defendant's attorney, wrote in a series of February motions filed in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Gabriel Boykins, 49, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of abuse of a corpse and one count of tampering with evidence in connection with the deaths, according to the Hamilton County Criminal Court website.

"An alibi may serve as a crucial and important aspect in defending against criminal charges," Hudson said. "However, a defendant must be advised of the location of the alleged crime in order to determine if there is relevant and credible evidence that would support an alibi defense."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga double homicide suspect arrested in Knoxville)

What happened?

On May 19, 2020, the family of Tamara and Aquarious Church reported them missing to Chattanooga police, according to a 2020 department release.

Their remains were found on July 9, 2020, in the woods near 2303 Greenwood Road, the statement said. A warrant was issued for Boykins, who was arrested two weeks later in Knoxville.

Boykins told investigators he left town the day before the mother and daughter went missing. He said he took a bus to Louisville, Kentucky, and then to Oklahoma with two other people.

Prosecutors demanded Boykins notify the state of any potential alibi defense ahead of his jury trial, but Hudson argues his client should not have to provide such notice without knowing where the victims were killed in Hamilton County, court filings show.

Hudson is asking the court to order that prosecutors disclose the alleged murder scene because it is necessary for the preparation of Boykins' defense and to avoid an unfair surprise at trial, court filings state.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga police searching for double homicide suspect after human remains found in woods near Greenwood Road)

Tamara Church's burning van

A van was found burning one day before the disappearances of Tamara and Aquarious Church on the 1900 block of Lynnbrook Avenue, court filings state.

It was later determined the van belonged to Tamara Church.

A Chattanooga police detective obtained video recordings from surveillance cameras in the area following the incident, court filings state. Prosecutors assert one of the recordings shows Boykins walking in an area near the van fire.

The detective showed a video to Tamara Church's other daughter, who identified Boykins, court filings state.

She allegedly spotted Boykins' brown boots.

The detective referenced another video of Boykins walking near the scene, but prosecutors have only produced one recording so far, court filings state.

Hudson argues prosecutors should be required to identify on the record the actual video shown to Tamara Church's daughter and others involved in the investigation.

Boykins is being held on a $700,000 bond. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to driving on a revoked license and vandalism.

Contact Sofia Saric at or 423-757-6476.

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