Judge dismisses charges in Cleveland triple murder case - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Judge dismisses charges in Cleveland triple murder case

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CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) - The woman accused in a 15-year-old triple murder case is off the hook. A judge has dismissed all charges against Twanna Blair.

Blair was one of three suspects charged with the murders. Prosecutors said OJ Blair, Dawn Rogers and Cayci Higgins were shot execution-style in a Cleveland apartment on Valentine's Day 1999. Blair was indicted in 2007 in connection with the murders, but was never convicted.

"For 15 years, the people who shot her have gone without being punished or prosecuted," said Blair's attorney, Lee Davis.

For years, he said his client was the focus of the crime that left her for dead. Blair was the lone survivor of the quadruple shooting. Davis said she went from being a victim who was shot in the back -- to a suspect, at one time facing the death penalty.

Several indictments spanned several years, and Blair was acquitted of murder charges in 2009.

"The distraction has been law enforcement's focus on Twanna Blair, when she's had absolutely nothing to do with this," said Davis.

Four years after the acquittal, four new indictments were filed, including conspiracy and facilitation to commit murder. Davis asked Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to dismiss them all.

"I think it was an illegal indictment," he said. "And I think the prosecutors either knew it or should have known it."

The judge granted Blair's motion to dismiss, and said the new indictment was "based on the same conduct... for which Ms. Blair was tried in 2009."

"I believed Ms. Blair was guilty, but we're stuck with what proof we've got," said District Attorney Steve Bebb, who passed the case off to attorney, Richard Fisher.

Bebb said he believed Blair was withholding key information about the case.

"There were several things in there which made me think she knew a lot more than what she was told, or was guilty herself," he said.

Judge Blackwood dismissed all four charges against Blair and removed Fisher from prosecuting the case, handing it off to incoming DA Steve Crump.

"There's an old adage," said Bebb. "'When something gets blanked up, it stays blanked up'."

Davis said despite Blair's relief, there's still a bit of a letdown.

"She's still disappointed," Davis said, "that the people responsible for shooting her and killing the people she cared about haven't been fully brought to justice."

Investigators believe two or more men were behind the shooting, but only one person has been convicted. Maurice Johnson was found guilty and sentenced to life without parole. A mistrial was declared in Michael Younger's trial.

Blair is currently being held time at Silverdale correctional facility on federal drug charges.
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