The trial of a Chattanooga man charged with intentionally killing his girlfriend during an argument in summer 2017 began Tuesday in Hamilton County Criminal Court.
Prosecutors say Reginald Oakley, sometimes referred to as Reginald Woods or Joker, shot and killed Katrina Holloway during an argument inside their government housing at 1258 Cypress Street Ct., and is guilty of second-degree murder. They also charged Oakley, 44, with employing a firearm during a dangerous felony and suggested that he helped make the gun disappear from the scene before police arrived around 1:30 a.m. on July 20, 2017.
Assistant District Attorney Leslie Longshore said the state would rely on testimony from Holloway's son, then 11, who heard the couple arguing, heard the gunshot, and tried to plug his mother's wound with his finger before she died.
With jurors selected so late in the afternoon, prosecutors first played the 911 calls Oakley made in the moments after Holloway was shot around 1:30 a.m. Jurors could hear someone telling 911 that someone had been shot in the chest. The line then went quiet before a second call mentioned police arriving on the scene. Testimony from Holloway's son is expected later in the trial.
In their opening statement, one of Oakley's lawyers, Steven Moore, said authorities rushed to judgment and that Holloway's son changed his testimony the second time he spoke with police. "There's a dispute," Moore told jurors, about who picked up the gun first during the argument in the couple's kitchen. As they argued, according to previous testimony, Holloway tried to snatch the gun back and it accidentally fired.
After that, Moore said, Oakley carried Holloway to the couch, called for an ambulance, ran to get a neighbor's help and tried performing CPR as neighbors lingered around the scene.
"That's what he's doing [performing CPR]," Moore said. "He's not worried about where the gun is. He's worried about Ms. Holloway."
Moore added that Oakley willingly spoke with a detective that night. But no matter how many times he told the same story, detectives refused to believe him, Moore said. They later found no gunshot residue on his hands, indicating he had not fired a weapon, Moore said.
"They do everything they can to get him to change his story," Moore said, [but] "there's no evidence of an intentional act, no evidence of a second-degree murder. And as I understand it, that's all the facts the state has: Possible fabrication from a child, officers hellbent on 'He did it,' then a medical examiner" disputing Oakley's account because of the angle of the bullet.
Prosecutors will continue presenting their proof Wednesday before Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz.
Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @zackpeterson918.