UPDATE: Homicide charges dropped in April death of Rosa Chatman - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports


FIRST ON 3: Homicide charges dropped for lack of evidence, DA says

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UPDATE: The criminal homicide and aggravated assault charges against Bruce Stevenson were dropped Thursday morning in court. 

Assistant District Attorney General Lance Pope cited the lack of evidence in the case.

In court, Pope said the state did not have enough evidence to pursue the criminal homicide charge against Stevenson in the April death of Rosa Chatman.

"The arrest warrant was issued primarily based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence," Pope said. "Since the time that arrest warrant was issued, that circumstantial evidence has not developed favorably for the State."

The TBI is currently testing numerous pieces of evidence. It's possible the results could implicate Stevenson, at which point he'd be re-charged. It's also possible the testing takes detectives down another direction.

Judge Lila Statom dismissed the charges Thursday morning at Pope's request.

Stevenson remains at the Hamilton County Jail but is set to be released at some point Thursday.

In an email, Chattanooga Police Department spokesman Kyle Miller said "The Chattanooga Police Department will continue working with the court system by presenting investigative facts and evidence concerning this case."

PREVIOUS STORY: Bruce Stevenson has a criminal record in Hamilton County dating back to 1990.

He is also a registered sex offender.

In 1990, Stevenson plead guilty to aggravated rape and kidnapping, was placed on the sex offender registry and sentenced to 13 years.

In 1998, a jury convicted him of attempted first degree murder. Stevenson has been charged numerous times with violating the terms of the sex offender registry, assault, and other violent crimes.

According to the affidavit connected to yesterday’s arrest, police found Rosa Chatman in a pool of dried blood in an upstairs bedroom. There were signs of a struggle downstairs, but no signs of forced entry. Chatman has severe head trauma and her throat was cut.

Witnesses and relatives told police during the investigation that Stevenson was extremely abusive toward Chatman. The couple had children together and had been together for many years.

Stevenson provided false statements to police when asked about the last time he spoke to Chatman, he also changed his story when it came to how he cut his right knuckle.

Chatman’s autopsy revealed that she died of blunt force trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck. She was found nude and face down in the floor.

The toxicology report shows Chatman had cocaine and alcohol in her system when she died.

Stevenson’s bond was set at $1,099,000.

PREVIOUS STORY:  Bond is set at more than $1 million dollars for the suspect arrested in connection with a violent attack in April that killed a woman.  

Bruce Stevenson, 58, was arrested Tuesday by Chattanooga Police and is charged with Criminal Homicide in the death of Rosa Chatman.

He is scheduled to be in court June 23rd.

PREVIOUS STORY: The 56-year-old woman found murdered in her College Hill Courts apartment last month died from a violent assault.Rosa Chatman died with a large cut to her neck and blunt force injuries to her head, according to the Medical Examiner's preliminary report.

The report does not yet include the victim's toxicology analysis.

Maintenance staff with the Chattanooga Housing Authority found her Chatman naked and face down on the floor in the upstairs bedroom of her apartment on April 15, one day after she was last seen alive.

No one has been charged with Chatman's homicide.

She's the second female killed this year at College Hill Courts and the city's third unsolved homicide for 2015.

PREVIOUS STORY: "She was a nice person, she never bothered anybody and I don't bother anybody you know, sometimes it makes me scared to live here," says Karen Hughes, as detectives comb her late neighbor's apartment in College Hill Courts, the scene of Chattanooga's latest homicide.

As family and friends of the deceased arrive on scene and hear the news, they grieve and try to support one another emotionally.  

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher says his department was tipped off to the death around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon by Chattanooga Housing Authority workers who were conducting routine maintenance to the unit. 

"They discovered a victim lying on the second floor of the apartment, there were scenes of what appeared to be a struggle throughout the house," explains Chief Fletcher. 

A struggle that is evident by the two damaged second story windows to the victim's apartment.

"I'd say about two days ago, it ain't no more than three," says Hughes of the last time she saw her neighbor alive. A fact in the investigatory timeline that could be crucial to the police.

Surveillance cameras are placed around many of the buildings that comprise College Hill Courts, but Hughes doubts the cameras are operational, citing recent history. 

We asked CHA about the surveillance cameras and whether or not they were functioning. Here's the answer we received late Wednesday evening.

"The cameras in this community are operational and the video is under review. We cannot comment on evidentiary information as it could interfere with the investigation." 

Detectives fanned through the complex, asking residents and nearby neighbors if they heard or saw anything out of the ordinary in the past few days.

Chief Fletcher says his investigators are making inroads with the public's help.

"We find the community very helpful , especially in the last few months," said Chief Fletcher. 

CPD welcomes anyone with information to come forward and call them at 423-698-2525.  Tipsters can also text any information in the case anonymously to 423-451-6898.

PREVIOUS STORY:  Chattanooga Police are investigating a death on Cypress Street Court

The body of a female was found inside an apartment around 3:30 pm  by a Chattanooga Housing Authority official while performing a routine inspection.

Investigators say signs of a struggle at the scene leads them to believe the woman's death was an apparent homicide.   

In statement release by the Chattanooga Housing Authority, they report that the cause of death has not been confirmed at this time however, it is not due to a shooting. 

Chattanooga Police ask anyone with information regarding this crime to call 423-698-2525. 

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