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Rodney Jennings

A trial date has been set for Rodney "Big Head" Jennings Jr., who police say is responsible for the 2014 slaying of Raphael White.

Jennings, 29, will face charges of second-degree murder and assault on Feb. 23.

Chattanooga police say Jennings went unannounced to an East Lake apartment at 2755 Sixth Avenue Court around 6 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2014, because he wanted to see his children.

The mother, Cheslea Thompson, told Jennings their youngest son, then 2, was asleep upstairs, according to court testimony. "Go and get him, go and get him," Thompson recalled him saying.

She told him no, three times. Then she asked him to leave, court records show.

Instead, Jennings hung around the kitchen until Thompson's cousin, Raphael White, confronted him. "We don't want no trouble," White said.

"I don't want no trouble either," Jennings replied, and backed out the door.

While leaving, Jennings fired one shot into White's chest, then sprinted into the snowy night toward Fourth Avenue, according to a criminal affidavit.

Police arrived at Thompson's apartment at 6:44 p.m. and White was transported to Erlanger hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Jennings was arrested March 18, 2014, in Memphis.

In the Hamilton County jail, Jennings picked up an assault charge after jailers said he hurled a cup of urine toward an inmate who was serving chow on May 12, 2014. His criminal record, which dates back to 2006, also includes aggravated battery, reckless endangerment, and unlawfully carrying or possessing a weapon.

Wearing a red jumpsuit and orange slippers, Jennings appeared Wednesday morning in Hamilton County Criminal Court, shackles clanking around his ankles. After a brief hearing, a judge scheduled Jennings' pretrial date for Jan. 4, 2016.

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at or 423-757-6347. Follow @zackpeterson918.

News report from the shooting: 

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