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Tyrone Murphy

A 57-year-old accused of stabbing a woman to death in a Highland Park apartment and then tampering with the crime scene is heading to the grand jury.

General Sessions Court judge Alex McVeagh said there was enough probable cause for Tyrone Murphy's case to continue through the justice system after a hearing this morning.

If a grand jury returns an indictment in his case, Murphy will continue onto Criminal Court. He faces criminal homicide and tampering with or fabricating evidence charges.

Prosecutors walked through the timeline of what police already believe: that Murphy stabbed Ashley Cates, his 30-year-old neighbor, to death on June 4.

Emergency responders found Cates with multiple stab wounds as well as blood on the door of the neighboring apartment. Thinking there could another victim inside, police knocked a few times. After hearing no answer, they breached the apartment and found Murphy with freshly stitched wounds on his right hand.

Chattanooga detective Cameka Bruce, who interviewed Murphy, said the 57-year-old worked at Sticky Fingers and cut his hand the night before (June 3) carrying a bag with broken plates in it.

Bruce said Murphy walked home that night and got medical attention around 10 a.m. the next day at Erlanger hospital.

Bruce was one of two witnesses for state prosecutors. Executive Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope also called Dennis Nelson, who worked on the crime scene that night.

Nelson said officers used BLUESTAR, a chemical that reveals any blood or other genetic material that may have been mopped up. The chemical showed blue dots on the apartment floor that formed a possible trail to Murphy's room, Nelson said.

The Chattanooga Police Department does not conduct DNA testing in-house and sent the blood swabs to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Nelson and Bruce said. Those results have not come back yet.

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

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