UPDATE: Defense attorneys believe new evidence in a Grundy County murder case could exonerate a man behind bars. 

Adam Braseel is serving a life sentence for killing Malcolm Burrows in 2006. 

He has always maintained his innocence. 

A 28 page petition mentions a new fingerprint, names a possible suspect and details testimony from a deputy who was not allowed to testify during the trial. 

"My brother is fighting, everyone else is fighting, but it's been hard. It's been really hard," Christina Braseel said. 

Christina Braseel has been fighting to prove her brother innocence for more than a decade. 

Adam Braseel was convicted of beating Burrows to death and assaulting Burrows' sister on Melissa Rock Road in Grundy County in 2007. 

Investigators tied Braseel to the crime when Burrows' sister picked him out of a line up. 

But Braseel's attorney Alex Little said there's new evidence in the case, including testimony from the first deputy on the scene who found Burrows' wallet on Burrows body. 

"That's important because the whole government theory was that Adam Braseel didn't know this man and that he killed him for robbery, there was no wallet on the scene," Little said. 

Little wrote in a petition to the court that a fingerprint found on Burrows' car door belongs to Kermit Bryson. 

It states Bryson was a violent felon with a long criminal record and killed a police officer before killing himself two years after Burrows murder. 

"What's interesting about this is we have an individual who a year after this murder killed a police officer, so clearly he's an individual who I think should have been a prime suspect in the beginning," Little added. 

The petition states Bryson not only looks similar to Braseel, but also drove a car similar to the suspect vehicle and had front end damage, matching descriptions from eyewitnesses. 

Assistant District Attorney Steve Strain tells Channel 3 Bryson was never considered a suspect in the case and said Burrows' sister and her son identified Braseel as the suspect. 

But Christina Braseel believes the new evidence could point to a different verdict if presented to a jury in a new trial. 

"But for us to say and blame Kermit, we can't do that. But to say he should have been a suspect and Adam should not have been a suspect, that's what should have happened," she said, "I don't know what the legal is on what happens next. But he at least deserves a fair trial."

Grundy County Sheriff Clint Shrum responded to the new developments in a statement:

Considering the new, or perhaps previously undisclosed evidence that has been presented in the Adam Braseel case, and the numerous requests for a statement, please refer to the following. This statement in no way reflects an opinion of guilt or innocence regarding Adam Braseel. It does, however, reflect a professional opinion based on a conclusion of the facts that I have been exposed to in this case.

I think that it is also important to note two other facts. I was not the Sheriff during this investigation or trial. The idea that I can simply let Adam Braseel out of jail or re-open the case is simply not true. Furthermore, not one single juror in the case has ever expressed to me they made a wrong decision.

Just like many of you, I have only been privy to read the transcripts and case files provided by outside sources, but it has always appeared to me the previous Sheriff’s administration was the lead agency in the case and that issues had developed before the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was asked to assist. Reviewing the most recent claims surrounding the fingerprint evidence of cop-killer Kermit Eugene Bryson, causes me a great deal of concern regarding the other evidence presented or not presented in this case. For example, the conflicting descriptions of the assailant and weapons used in the assault of Becky Hill and Kirk Braden. Statements that were changed. The manner in which the photo line-up was conducted was an absolute travesty. There was no DNA evidence to link Braseel to the crime and at least one pertinent witness was not asked to testify.

Do I think the fingerprint evidence as it relates to Kermit Eugene Bryson is very significant? Absolutely. I also believe had this evidence been presented during the trial that it could have caused reasonable doubt. I also feel that previous evidence should be re-visited and that any evidence not previously presented be brought forth. If the totality of all the evidence still speaks to the guilt of Adam Braseel then let it be. If it does not, then let him go.

A judge will hear the new evidence and arguments from both sides in June. 

Stay with Channel 3 for updates on this story. 
 


The attorney for a Grundy County man convicted for murder says there is new evidence that was missing from his trial that would have led to a different verdict.

Adam Braseel was accused of killing 60-year-old Malcolm Burrows in 2006 and sentenced to life in prison.

Braseel's attorney says five pieces of new evidence show that he did not commit the crime.

Those pieces of evidence include:

  1. A fingerprint at the scene of the crime was identified as belonging to someone else.
  2. The individual Braseel's attorney says the fingerprint belonged to was not a random citizen, but he "was a violent felon with a long criminal record who killed a police officer and, later, killed himself when the police were closing in on him."
  3. The individual matched the description an eyewitness gave of the killer. The attorney says Braseel and the man looked "strikingly similar" in photographs.
  4. Braseel’s attorney says the vehicle driven at the time of the crime "also fit the description provided by the witness."
  5. There was not a robbery. The victim's wallet was not missing, which contradicts testimony "elicited" by the State during the trial. The attorney said an affidavit confirmed that a sergeant found the wallet in the victim's back pocket. "Neither the Sheriff nor any other deputy logged it into evidence, and the officers kept mention of the wallet out of any police report," the attorney said.

"To summarize: The motive that allegedly led Mr. Braseel to murder Mr. Burrows was based on false (or, at least, mistaken) testimony," Braseel's attorney added.

The 61-page document also includes exhibits and details of the case.

The Grundy County Sheriff's Office released the following statement about Braseel's case:

Considering the new, or perhaps previously undisclosed evidence that has been presented in the Adam Braseel case, and the numerous requests for a statement, please refer to the following. This statement in no way reflects an opinion of guilt or innocence regarding Adam Braseel. It does, however, reflect a professional opinion based on a conclusion of the facts that I have been exposed to in this case.

I think that it is also important to note two other facts. I was not the Sheriff during this investigation or trial. The idea that I can simply let Adam Braseel out of jail or re-open the case is simply not true. Furthermore, not one single juror in the case has ever expressed to me they made a wrong decision.

Just like many of you, I have only been privy to read the transcripts and case files provided by outside sources, but it has always appeared to me the previous Sheriff’s administration was the lead agency in the case and that issues had developed before the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was asked to assist. Reviewing the most recent claims surrounding the fingerprint evidence of cop-killer Kermit Eugene Bryson, causes me a great deal of concern regarding the other evidence presented or not presented in this case. For example, the conflicting descriptions of the assailant and weapons used in the assault of Becky Hill and Kirk Braden. Statements that were changed. The manner in which the photo line-up was conducted was an absolute travesty. There was no DNA evidence to link Braseel to the crime and at least one pertinent witness was not asked to testify.

Do I think the fingerprint evidence as it relates to Kermit Eugene Bryson is very significant? Absolutely. I also believe had this evidence been presented during the trial that it could have caused reasonable doubt. I also feel that previous evidence should be re-visited and that any evidence not previously presented be brought forth. If the totality of all the evidence still speaks to the guilt of Adam Braseel then let it be. If it does not, then let him go.


PREVIOUS STORY: A Grundy County man is back in jail after only eight months as a free man. Adam Braseel's bond was revoked and he was taken back into custody Friday when a bondsman came to his door unexpectedly.

Braseel spent 8 years in prison for a murder he says he didn't commit. In January, he was released and granted a new trial.

The family said they're ready for this nightmare to be over for good. They now wait for answers to why Adam was brought back to jail. Adam Braseel spent eight years in prison; accused of killing 60-year-old Malcolm Burrows in 2006.  In January of this year, he thought he was a free man. “He has taken advantage of everything outside God has given him. He was cramped up in a little cell for 8 years,” said his older sister, Christina Braseel.

For the past eight months, the family has awaited a decision from the criminal court of appeals on a new trial. Just days before the decision was due, a bondsman showed up at their doorstep. “Somebody came knocking on the door to take him to the jail because they said the bond was revoked, anytime a bond is revoked you go to jail.”

A bond can be revoked for various reasons including failure to appear, the defendant becomes a flight risk, or the agreement made in exchange for bail is broken. Braseel's family said he followed all rules. “He's been an exemplary person in this community. He has not missed church, he's worked every day, and he’s volunteered. Everything you can imagine.”

The family is now working to gather seven thousand dollars to bond Braseel out for a second time. They hope this is the end to their long ordeal. “Innocent man in prison for 8 years, comes out for 8 months and then gets put back in jail and say you do not get a new trial and we have to file to the Supreme Court.”

The Grundy County Sheriff said the bonding company asked to be relieved of their obligation for Braseel. The circuit court will have a bond hearing to determine if they can be removed. Braseel remains in the Sheriff's custody. 

If Braseel bonds out of jail, his next step would be to file an appeal with the State Supreme Court.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

PREVIOUS STORY: A Grundy County man will get another chance to prove his innocence inside a courtroom. 

A jury convicted Adam Braseel in 2007 for beating Malcolm Burrows, 60, to death and assaulting Burrows' sister Rebecca Hill on Melissa Rock Road. At the time, investigators tied Braseel to the crime when Hill picked Braseel out of a lineup. He was sentenced to spend life in prison with the possibility of parole. 

Throughout the process, Braseel has maintained his innocence. 

He walked out of prison Friday night and hugged his mother. It was a moment eight years in the making. 

"There's not a good chance to get exonerated or a new trial and I'm so blessed," he said. 

Braseel's sister Christina has spent years combing through her brother's case and says she's found a number of discrepancies. 

"Everything from the murder weapon changing all throughout to the witness statements from the preliminary hearing to all throughout the trial from both of the witnesses," she said. 

Those discrepancies led Grundy County Circuit Judge Justin Angel to grant a relief from conviction ordering a new trial and allowed Braseel to go home. 

"I had 51 years over my head. I was convicted of a murder and assaults I know nothing about. I've been in prison for 29-hundred and 20-something days. I'm an innocent man," he said. 

"I knew this day would come. We just have to be patient and we have to keep our faith that God will deliver. He did not want Adam to suffer as a murderer but while he was there, he used him and he did just that," Christina added. 

Christina still wants justice for the Burrows family and wants to see the person that did commit the crime behind bars. 

"I promise you, we would work together with them, if they would allow us to, to find out who really did this, absolutely." she said. 

The state has appealed the order. Braseel will remain free until the state's appeal is ruled upon or a new trial date is set.