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Renee Tellis, left, talks about her brother Edward Glenn Jr., who was robbed and shot to death more than three years ago, while sitting near his son Edward III, center, and niece Jael at her home Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A jury convicted the killer, Stephen Lester, in December 2015.

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Life after the trial: Family stuggles to move on after murder

It's a holy time of week for the Glenn and Tellis family.

On a typical Sunday morning, Sherra Tellis gets up early to make pinto beans, mac and cheese, and meatloaf, and sometimes cornbread dressing, for her children. Sisters Renee Tellis and Quetta Glenn ride over together from church. Someone teases Renee's oldest daughter, Shay, about her height. And three years ago — when he was alive — Edward Glenn Jr. lumbered through the front door with one of his five children, cracking a joke.

"BG don't smell no cooking," he announced with a smile. "Where the food at?"

It's been 1,184 days since Jan. 10, 2013, when a Chattanooga police detective knocked on Sherra Tellis' door at 8:30 a.m. and said her second child and only boy was dead.

"I thought they'd lost their minds," Sherra Tellis, 54, said last week. She called Quetta Glenn and told her what police had said.

"Quit playing," was her reply.

Hours before suspected gang members fatally shot her 28-year-old brother over drug money on Jan. 10, 2013, Quetta Glenn swapped Facebook messages with Edward Glenn about getting a new pair of Air Jordans for his son.

In December 2015, when one of her brother's suspected killers walked into Hamilton County Criminal Court wearing a salmon-colored dress shirt, Quetta Glenn was there. She sat beside her mother and sister as prosecutors explained Stephen Lester's plot in 2013 to rob Glenn.

Lester recruited Carmisha Lay, his then girlfriend, who said Glenn made for an easy target because he sold drugs and had money. Lay convinced Glenn to come to 2500 O'Rear St. for sex and, throughout the night, sent a string of text messages to Lester and another suspect, Eric McReynolds, who has not been charged in the death.

Between 3 and 4 a.m., when the lights were down, Lester and allegedly McReynolds burst into the home wearing bandanas. They pistol-whipped Glenn, stole money from his pants, and shot him twice. Two days later, police charged Lay and Lester with first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, criminal conspiracy, making false reports and tampering with evidence.

It was a long three-day trial for Quetta Glenn and her family. Renee Tellis had no trouble falling asleep the first night, she was so exhausted.

But when the state finished presenting its evidence and the jury left to deliberate, the family was there. After two and a half hours, they cheered when jurors returned a life sentence with an opportunity for parole after 51 years for first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.

But even though four months have passed, it's not over.

Quetta Glenn and her sister were there on March 29 and March 30 when attorneys postponed the sentencing hearings for Lester, who also faces federal gun charges, and Lay, who agreed to serve 15 years in exchange for her testimony, to April 13 and 14.

And when that time comes, they'll be there. Because some part of them has to see this all the way through.

"You can't really move on with it," Renee Tellis said. "You're constantly reminded of it when you have to go back and sit in the same courtroom where you watched a trial."

In a weird way, the family is lucky. At least detectives found Glenn's killers and sent a convincing case to court. So far this year, seven of the city's nine homicides have gone unsolved.

But life after Glenn has proved difficult in many subtle ways.

"I think unless you've gone through it, you don't realize the impact, even on the financial side," said Verna Wyatt, a co-founder of Tennessee Voices for Victims. The nonprofit brings awareness to the emotional turmoil victims' families undergo throughout the criminal justice process.

"How many times did they have to go to the courthouse?" Wyatt asked. "How many times did they have to take off work? How many times did they have to pay for parking? How many times did they have to run and grab food between hearings? And then the appeals start. And unless the person pleads guilty during sentencing, it never ends."

Maybe that's why Sherra Tellis still hasn't cried.

Everybody asked her after the trial: "How do you feel, how do you feel?"

I don't know, she'd reply. "I still don't know."

The mother grieves inwardly, and remembers a son who beat everyone at dominoes. A peacemaker who never met a stranger. A mama's boy who excelled at mathematics and wanted to be an engineer, who dropped out of Howard High School two weeks before graduation, and who moved into the home across the street.

For a while, Glenn worked at an industrial plant, cleaning out septic tanks, and would travel to Alabama and Nashville. If he engaged in the drug dealing that Lay described in her testimony, he kept a careful partition between it and his family.

When he had children with his wife, nicknamed Ree-Ree, Glenn showed a gentle humor. In one Facebook photo, he is pictured wearing a blue scrub cap in the hospital. Pretending to work, Glenn posted the caption: "'Bout to deliver this baby."

Every year, he would throw Halloween parties for the children and buy huge bags of candy. Glenn didn't like going to the doctor or getting shots. But he loved grilling out with family members. If Sherra Tellis brought plates of food, she could count on leaving empty-handed.

Now it's a recent Thursday afternoon with the Tellis family. They're seated around a coffee table in the living room of Renee's house. Glenn's children, who have an appointment later in the afternoon, are sharing memories of their father.

Edward Glenn III, 7, is nicknamed "Fat Daddy" because of his thick legs as a baby. He and Glenn wrestled together and played video games. Fat Daddy's always been quiet, but today he speaks in shrugs as he sits beside his 5-year-old brother, Eugene.

Tanae, 17 days old when her father was killed, has braids in her hair. She bounds around the room and, at one point, hops onto her grandma's lap.

"What do you want to say about your daddy?" Sherra Tellis asks.

"He's in heaven," she says, and she giggles.

Sherra Tellis smiles, but she also remembers how Glenn wasn't there this past Easter to help demolish a 21-person meal.

Go take a look in her refrigerator.

There's nothing but leftovers.

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

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