UPDATE: Three murder cases dropped in July for lack of evidence, witness cooperation
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: Prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss a 2014 murder case in open court Friday.
Wendell Lamont Mitchell was charged last year with first degree murder. However, evidence results from the state crime lab that arrived two weeks ago did not tie Mitchell to the fatal stabbing of Jeffrey Jackson. Witnesses who initially came forward, later backed down.
"Immediately after an incident occurs, its very difficult to find witnesses who will come forward and find information about what they saw and certainly the passage of time makes that more difficult to get them to come forward and to get them to cooperate," said Asst. District Attorney Cameron Williams.
None of Jackson's DNA was found on the submitted pieces of evidence. Jackson was stabbed in the neck in East Lake Courts July 27 last year. He later died at the hospital, according to the motion filed Friday in Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole's courtroom.
"The Chattanooga Police Department and the State of Tennessee felt there was some chance that there could be evidence used against him but it didn't turn out that way so ultimately the case was dismissed," Williams said. "Didn't exonerate him but it didn't implicate him. It was really inconclusive."
Witnesses initially told police the two had been involved in multiple altercations the night of the murder and some said they saw the attack.
"The witnesses who did cooperate initially have now ceased cooperation altogether," according to a motion filed by prosecutor, Cameron Williams.
Without DNA evidence linking Mitchell or witness testimony, "the state feels it cannot go forward with the prosecution of the case," the motion states.
Mitchell's case marks the third murder case thrown out by the Hamilton County District Attorney's office in July.
On July 9, a murder charge against Bruce Stevenson was dropped due to a lack of evidence in the case where Rosa Chatman was slain in College Hill Courts.
One week later, charges against Chester Phelps were dropped in the 2014 death of Charles James King for the same reason.
"We have an ethical obligation that there has to be evidence before we can charge someone with murder and we have to abide by those legal standards along with legal standards and what level of proof is required," Neal Pinkston told Channel 3 after Phelps' charges were dropped.
If investigators are able to find new evidence, suspects can always be re-charged.
Saturday, January 20 2018 10:29 PM EST2018-01-21 03:29:09 GMT
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