Cell phone records place a 22-year-old man accused of murdering a cab driver in the same area of the April 2012 homicide at the time it occurred, an expert witness said Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Christopher Padgett, then 18, called Nathan Deere to 1643 Ocoee St., got into his cab and shot him in the back of the head before stealing his earnings.
In addition to neighbors and investigating police officers placing Padgett at the scene of the crime, prosecutors said earlier this week that phone records would also prove he was there. On the second day of his murder trial in Hamilton County Criminal Court, they delivered.
Mark Hamilton, a certified technical investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department, shared a slideshow that tracked Deere and Padgett's locations around 5:30 p.m. on April 18, 2012, using their cell phone calls.
At 5:18 p.m., he said, Padgett made a two-second call to Deere near Parkridge Medical Center. Because of the short duration, his call never registered on Deere's phone log, Hamilton said.
As Chattanooga police officers pointed out Tuesday, they found Deere's phone in a grassy lot one block away from the crime scene.
A neighbor said she saw a skinny black male get out of the cab and sprint in that direction. Prosecutors said that description matched Padgett, who later told police he was walking through the area when he found a cracked phone and put it back down.
At 5:27 p.m., Deere called Padgett from the Brainerd Road area after Padgett rang the cab driver again, Hamilton said. Then, as he moved closer to Ocoee Street, Deere made two calls at 5:35 p.m. and 5:41 p.m. Both appeared to be normal calls, Hamilton said.
Two minutes later, the slideshow said, "Deere's number no longer answers any calls off the network."
"Based on your expert opinion," prosecutor Cameron Williams asked Hamilton, "at the time of the homicide, [were] Padgett's phone and Deere's phone at an area consistent with the homicide?"
"Yes, sir," Hamilton said.
Padgett, who made a $350,000 bond on Friday, was arrested on April 19, 2012, following two hours of police interrogation, one of his attorneys, Meredith Ziebold, said.
She argued officers stopped conducting interviews with possible eyewitnesses in 2012, when Padgett became a suspect after providing unsatisfactory answers to their questions. Meanwhile, she said, prosecutors never proved that there had been a robbery.
"Christopher had $76 on his dresser," she said to investigator Matthew Puglise of the Chattanooga Police Department.
"You didn't ask Christopher during his interview where the $76 came from, did you?" she asked.
No, Puglise said.
Ziebold also questioned a different investigating officer, Daniel Francis, about a witness who claimed the killer was wearing a pair of black and grey Nike Jordans. After calling Deere's phone and hearing Padgett on the other line, police said they searched his home and found a similar pair of Nike Jordans.
"You said someone discussed black and grey Jordans," Ziebold said. "Do you know who that was?"
"I do not," Francis said.
"So you didn't take that statement?" she asked.
No, he said, another investigator did.
As for the cellular data, Ziebold asked Hamilton whether a phone will always predictably connect with the closest tower.
"So my phone sitting right here could have connected with a different sector?" she asked.
"Potentially," Hamilton said. "It all depends on the tower."
After prosecutors finished their case around 5:30 p.m., Judge Tom Greenholtz dismissed jurors for the night.
Defense attorneys will put on proof when the trial continues today at 9 a.m.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at email@example.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.