A 23-year-old man acted in self defense when he shot and killed his child's mother's ex-boyfriend outside of a duplex last month, public defenders argued Tuesday in Hamilton County General Sessions Court.
Before Jadarius Knox shot Aaron "Dakota" Biddle once in the head on May 26, Biddle threw a mason jar at Knox; threatened to kill him; punched Knox in the face, shoulder and chest, causing him to bleed; and then followed Knox outside of the Basswood Drive home with Knox's Xbox gaming system raised near his head, Deputy Public Defender Mike Little argued.
"It's self defense, your honor," Little said. "I'd ask the court to dismiss this case."
Judge Gary Starnes didn't quite agree.
"I didn't hear anyone testify that [Biddle] was going to hit [Knox] in the head [with the Xbox]," Starnes said. "There was no threat [once the fight moved outside]."
He sent Knox's charge to the grand jury, meaning Knox may be indicted on a specific murder charge such as first-degree, second-degree or voluntary manslaughter, and kept the 23-year-old's bond at $750,000.
According to court testimony, Biddle went over to Dekirrea Brooks' duplex that day to grab some items he'd left behind after their relationship ended in April. Brooks testified she and Biddle had been living together since June or July of 2017. But shortly after Biddle found something on her phone that upset him, pinned her to the floor, punched her in the head and called her a "slut," he moved out, Brooks said.
Brooks knew Knox because they dated in 2014. He was also the father of one of her two children, she said. Though Biddle knew Knox and would interact with him whenever he came by to see his child, Brooks said, she and Biddle would sometimes argue about it.
As the months passed, Brooks said Biddle became insecure whenever Knox visited. After Brooks and Biddle broke up, Knox began occasionally spending the night on the couch in her Basswood Drive duplex to help with their child, according to an interview between Knox and police that prosecutors played in court.
That didn't sit well with Biddle, who sent a threatening message to Knox a few weeks before the incident, Little said. The defender read some of the message, which he said Brooks gave him before Tuesday's hearing.
"This is pretty hard to read," Little said as he began to repeat the message. "'B——, Ima kill you and that n—— You left me for a f—— n——. F—— you, you ain't s——.'"
"What day was that sent to you?" he asked Brooks.
"May 4," she replied.
Little said Knox knew Biddle was coming over on May 26 and suggested Brooks put Biddle's stuff on the porch to avoid any confrontation. According to Brooks and Knox, everything was going well until Biddle spotted Knox on the couch playing video games in the hour before his work shift started.
After spotting Knox, Biddle became agitated, according to court testimony. He went into her room, grabbed a fan that belonged to him, walked into the kitchen, pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and then took a jar of money that didn't belong to him, Brooks said.
As he stood near the doorway, Biddle threw the jar at Knox but missed, according to court testimony. Then, as Brooks tried to push the door shut, he burst inside and began attacking Knox, who did not fight back, Little said.
Prosecutors said Knox then grabbed a gun he kept in the home and made it outside — but he never called police. Instead, he cocked the weapon, which probably caused a live round that was in the chamber to fall out, according to the police interview.
Around the same time, Biddle ripped the Xbox from the wall and brought it outside, according to court testimony. When he saw Knox with the gun, police said he asked, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"
He did, but police said he didn't need to.
"There's nothing that's preventing [Knox] from walking down the driveway [as opposed to shooting Biddle]," Daryl Slaughter, a detective with the Chattanooga Police Department, testified in court.
"Even though you have an enraged madman inside the house?" Little asked.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at email@example.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.