Surveillance video linking murder suspect to crime scene accidentally deleted
One of the deleted video files shows Lowe with a drawer of money and marijuana stolen from Allen's home.
Murder charges against a Chattanooga man were bound over to the grand jury Tuesday despite some evidence missing from the case.
Christopher Lowe, 25, is charged with the October 20 murder of 20-year-old Percy Allen inside an East Lake Courts apartment. Detectives found a couch overturned, the kitchen in disarray, a dresser with a missing drawer and Allen dead with a gunshot wound to his neck. Within 24 hours, police had charged Lowe with first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.
The Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA) has 16 surveillance cameras that capture activity and sometimes crime around East Lake Courts. On October 20, police say some cameras captured suspected killer Christopher Lowe leaving the murder scene with some items from the victim's home. But some of that video was accidentally deleted before it could be used in court to help tie the suspect to the crime.
"When we watch a video, we set up what we call bookmarks, to preserve what we want to keep so they don't loop over," testified CPD Homicide Detective Matthew Puglise. "Unfortunately, some of those videos bookmarked were bookmarked for the wrong day."
Det. Puglise said one of the deleted files shows Lowe with a drawer of money and marijuana stolen from Allen's home. He said the video showed Lowe stuffing money in his pocket. CPD's IT department worked to try and retrieve the video but couldn't find a way to get it back.
Chattanooga Police Spokesperson Kyle Miller told Channel 3:
"The video system maintained by CHA Police, a law enforcement partner, is exciting new technology and this system requires redundancy of preservation in the future. Thankfully this human error did not prevent the advancement of prosecution as the case was bound over to the Grand Jury."
With some of the video now gone and floating somewhere in cyberspace, prosecutors had to find other ways to prove Lowe's involvement, including through evidence found nearby.
"The blue hoodie that we were told that he was wearing was discarded in a garbage can near where his phone was pinging, the victim's phone," Puglise said.
Detectives interviewed Lowe for four hours after the homicide and say the timeline he gave didn't add up. Judge Lila Statom agreed and sent the charges of First Degree Murder and Aggravated Robbery to the grand jury.