UPDATE: Jury to continue deliberations in Lookout Valley triple homicide trial

UPDATE: Jury to continue deliberations in Lookout Valley triple homicide trial

No verdict reached Tuesday night

September 26th, 2017 by Zack Peterson in Breaking News

Judge Barry A. Steelman talks to prospective jurors for the Lookout Valley trial involving defendant Derek Morse on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

This is a developing story and was updated Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m. with more information. .

After three hours of deliberations Tuesday, Chattanooga jurors broke for the night in the murder trial of Derek Morse.

They were to resume discussions at 9 a.m. Wednesday about whether Morse pulled the trigger on Caleb Boozer, John Lang and Jon Morris as they hung out in front of a trailer home on Kellys Ferry Road on April 9, 2014. Morse faces three life sentences in the homicide and another charge of attempted first-degree murder. His trial began last week in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Prosecutors say Morse, 23, and his friend, Skyler Allen, opened fire on the men in retaliation for a violent drug set-up five days earlier. They tried to kill 16-year-old Matthew Callan that night, too.

He lived, though, and he positively identified Morse as a shooter, connecting several circumstantial pieces of evidence, such as gunshot residue, shell casings and surveillance footage.

But Morse's defense attorney, Dan Ripper, said Callan didn't identify Morse in a 911 call right after the shooting. He pointed in closing arguments to a different culprit: Michael Shavers, who testified that Morse admitted the crime to him in jail.

Defendant Derek Morse looks back as Judge Steelman introduces his bailiff to prospective jurors for the 2014 Lookout Valley triple homicide trial Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Defendant Derek Morse looks back as Judge Steelman...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Every witness identification of the shooter suggested a man in a black T-shirt and blue jeans, Ripper said. His client was in lighter clothing. But guess who matched that profile?

Guess who knew an incredible amount about the crime?

Guess who faced his own murder charges in Hamilton County and needed to make a deal?

And guess who was related to Jacob Allison, the alleged getaway driver who also faces murder charges?

Shavers, Ripper said.

"Why does he have such an extraordinary level of detail that night?" Ripper asked. "Why do you think that is? He knows what happened because he was there. He is the person in the black T-shirt and the blue jeans. That's the same man who keeps getting identified as Derek Morse."

Prosecutors said that was ridiculous.

Executive Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope played a phone call Morse made from jail the day he was arrested. Morse asks his girlfriend to write down a timeline for April 9: He woke up, took a shower, went to school, picked up Shavers, traveled to East Ridge, then grabbed Allison and drove to Allen's house.

That lined up with witness Dennis McNabb's testimony, Pope said. McNabb saw the men emerge from Allen's house with the murder weapons in the minutes leading up to the homicide.

Which brought Pope to his next point: If Shavers were responsible, wouldn't Morse protest he was being framed? Instead, the defense was shifting arguments, the prosecutor said.

"You have the defendant's words," Pope said. "He told Shavers he did it. ... I ask you to do more than just look at the surface of the evidence. Think about the impossibility of some of the things the defense wants you to believe."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.

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Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.