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Stephen Doantae Lester
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Edward Lebron Glenn, Jr.

The murder trial of a man accused of commanding his friend to fatally shoot a father of five during a robbery started Tuesday, nearly three years after the shooting.

Clean-shaven and wearing a salmon-tinted dress shirt, 27-year-old Stephen Lester appeared in Hamilton County Criminal Court beside attorney Dan Ripper on the first day of his trial on first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery charges.

Prosecutors say Lester, then 24, told Carmisha Lay and another friend to go "dance" for Edward Glenn Jr. and his friends, with the end goal of robbing them.

Days later, on Jan. 10, 2013, she invited Glenn over to her home for sex. While Glenn was in her bed, Lay sent a series of text messages to Lester and his friend, Eric McReynolds, telling them Glenn was at her home at 2500 O'Rear St. When Lester and McReynolds arrived, they robbed Glenn of his money. Then, prosecutor Cameron Williams said Tuesday, Lester gave McReynolds a command: "Shoot him, shoot him again."

Glenn was pronounced dead on arrival around 5 a.m., Chattanooga Police Department officers testified Tuesday. First responders found him on the floor, naked from the waist down except for one sock and a T-shirt, blood pooling beneath his body.

Prosecutors said Lay concocted various stories that night after fleeing the scene, initially telling police she was never at the scene. They said she later admitted that she was home but had no idea who the men were who robbed and killed Glenn. After being charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and false reports, Lay pleaded guilty to lesser charges Monday. She received 15 years in prison, Williams said, in exchange for providing "honest and truthful" testimony.

Lester, who faces charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, is pleading not guilty.

During opening arguments Tuesday, Ripper instructed jurors to question Lay's credibility, saying she altered her retelling of that night at least three times.

He compared her shifting memory to standing on a seashore with yet "another wave coming and washing sand out from underneath your feet."

"This is the woman the state is relying on," Ripper said. "McReynolds has never been charged with anything in this offense. Meanwhile, here's Mr. Lester. Why is he here? What possibly could she have to gain?"

Lance Pope, the executive assistant district attorney who is trying the case alongside Williams, said he plans to cross-examine three Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agents Wednesday morning.

Lay is also expected to testify sometime this week, Pope said after court adjourned Tuesday.

Contact Zack Peterson at zpeterson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.

 

Story updated Dec. 8 at 11:20 p.m.

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