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A 48-year-old man accused of killing a former Chattanooga assistant police chief's brother will appear in court later this month, likely with an appointed or privately hired attorney.

Public defenders said Friday they had a conflict of interest that prevents them from representing Rodney Gearing in his criminal homicide case in Hamilton County General Sessions Court. Judge Christie Sell accepted that explanation and rescheduled Gearing's case for Sept. 21. On that date, Gearing could have a preliminary hearing and hear some of the evidence prosecutors have against him. If Sell finds probable cause for his charge after that hearing, she can send it to a grand jury, and Gearing's case likely will continue on to Criminal Court.

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Rodney Gearing

Authorities charged Gearing with the murder of Gary McPherson, the brother of retired Assistant Police Chief Edwin McPherson, after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation recently said it matched his shoe to bloody prints found at the scene of the July slaying.

According to court documents, a family member went to check on Gary McPherson at his Ooltewah home on July 23, saw a broken window in the back and eventually found McPherson lying in a pool of blood in the middle of his living room. He was last seen the night before, and two witnesses told Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigators they saw Gearing on July 22 between 10 p.m. and midnight. The witnesses said Gearing had a small pistol, injuries to his left arm and ear, and some crack cocaine, which McPherson was known to have in his possession, the court records say.

On scene, investigators noted a handful of glass shards from a broken table under and around Gary McPherson's body. On one, there was a bloody shoe print. Other prints appeared on laminated flooring in the home.

Investigators said they found Gearing on July 23, took him in for questioning and noticed reddish-brown stains on his clothes. Though Gearing requested an attorney, investigators collected his shoes, clothes and phone and sent them to the TBI. About six weeks later, investigators said, they received a report matching Gearing's shoe to the bloody prints on scene and arrested and charged him with criminal homicide.

He is being held in custody on a $750,000 bond.

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

 

 

 

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