Thanks to a recorded testimony from his now-deceased victim, Memphian Ramone Hunter is facing more than a decade in prison for aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.
On Nov. 9, 2012, Hunter, 28, invaded the home of Jerry Wolfe, Jr., who lived in the 1100 block of Central. In February 2013, Wolfe testified in a preliminary hearing that Hunter, who he knew as “Rome," forced his way at gunpoint into his apartment with another man. Wolfe was pistol-whipped and robbed of a cell phone and $65, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office.
Wolfe described Hunter as the setup man in the holdup. The second assailant was never identified or captured.
Last December, before the case could be prosecuted, Wolfe died of causes unrelated to the crime. He was 48 years old. However, his recorded testimony from the February 2013 hearing was played for the Criminal Court jury last week. After hearing the testimony, the jury convicted Hunter of home invasion robbery and burglary.
Hunter faces eight to 12 years in prison for aggravated robbery and three to six years for aggravated burglary. He will be sentenced May 19th.
A man responsible for robbing a woman, who was nine months pregnant, at gunpoint will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Following a one-day trial, a Criminal Court jury took less than 30 minutes to convict Michael Bailey, 44, of aggravated robbery, Wednesday, May 7th, according to a press release from the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.
On Oct. 14, 2008, Bailey robbed a 24-year-old woman at gunpoint as she was getting out of her car in the 100 block of North Belvedere. The woman, who happened to be one day past her due date, had her 5-year-old son with her when the incident occurred. After taking her purse and car keys, Bailey hopped into the woman's Ford Taurus and drove off. He was arrested later and identified in a photo lineup.
Neither the woman nor her 5-year-old son suffered any injuries during the robbery. She gave birth to a son less than a week later.
Bailey is a repeat violent offender with a criminal record that dates back to 1990. He has more than 15 prior felony convictions, which include thefts, assaults, and aggravated robberies.
Bailey robbed the pregnant women just six days after he was released from prison on parole. Originally, he plead guilty to the robbery and was sentenced to a 30-year sentence without parole. However, a technical error on the judgment sheet incorrectly indicated parole was possible, motivating Bailey to withdraw his plea and ask for a trial.
Due to his extensive criminal record, Bailey will automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole as a three-strikes offender when he returns to court on June 16th.
A robbery attempt was foiled Thursday evening when a victim with a handgun and a permit to carry it shot and killed his attacker, according to the Memphis Police Department [MPD].
Officers found a male robbery victim, 27, who said he was walking in the area when he was approached by an unknown suspect. The victim told police the suspect hit him from behind causing him to fall to the ground. The victim then stood over the victim with an unknown object and demanded his property.
The victim, who police said has a gun carry permit, pulled his handgun and shot the attacker. The suspect was transported to Regional One Health where he later died.
MPD said the investigation is ongoing. No charges have yet been filed.
Radio and online talk show host Thaddeus Matthews has been indicted on stalking charges, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office.
A Parkway Village woman said Matthews posted pictures of her home online and beat on her door late at night, according to the D.A.’s office. The victim said Matthews beat on her door in September and that the incident scared the four children inside her home.
Before that, Matthews had driven past her home late at night and made inappropriate claims to the state government about her business, according to the D.A.
Matthews was arrested on the charges last week.
If convicted, Matthews could get up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a fine.
Matthews is still facing charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. He was indicted on the charges last year after he posted a photo on his Facebook page showing a child performing a sex act on an adult male. according to the D.A.’s office. That felony crime could come with a jail sentence from 8 to 30 years.
• Otis “OJ” Reddic Jr., 21, has been indicted on first-degree murder charges and eight more charges all stemming from a March shooting at Oak Court Mall.
On March 6, Reddic approached Theodis Pitchford, 22, near a kiosk on the east end of the mall’s lower level. Reddic pulled a small handgun from his hoodie and fired once at PItchford, who was struck on the left side. Pitchford was hospitalized in critical condition but survived the attack.
Reddic was indicted by the D.A.’s office Thursday and is being held on $1 million bond. He was indicted on one charge of first-degree murder against Pitchford and seven charges of reckless endangerment from those standing around Pitchford at the time of the shooting. He’s also up on a count of employing a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Victims of serial rapist Anthony Alliano brought a new lawsuit against Memphis and Shelby County agencies Wednesday for damages stemming from what they say was a years-long delay in justice as law enforcement agencies mishandled their rape kits.
All three of the victims gave body fluid samples and DNA evidence to investigators after they were raped, according to the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. The evidence was placed in sexual assault kits and transported to city and county agents for testing, the suit says. But the local governments “failed to timely submit, responsibly handle, and make due diligence” on about 12,000 such rape kits.
Evidence from the three victims in the new lawsuit was tested years after its submission. By that time, the evidence had spoiled to the point that it could no longer be legally used, the suit says, and this violates the victims’ constitutional rights to due process and violates the equal protection clause.
The suit names the city, the county, the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center, the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center, former Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons, current Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, former Memphis Police Department (MPD) director Larry Godwin, current MPD director Toney Armstrong, and Alliano.
The new suit also acknowledges the prior suit filed against the city in December. That federal class action lawsuit was filed by an unnamed Memphis woman who said she was raped in 2001. The lawsuit brought Wednesday says its victims have specific and relevant facts and claims, which warrants a case separate from the general class action suit.
Alliano is in jail now, convicted of raping eight women, the suit says. The lawsuit goes further, though, saying Alliano is believed to have committed more than 100 rapes in the Memphis and Shelby County area with the majority of them occurring in the Cordova area.
Over the 2013 calendar year, Memphis witnessed a 4.5 percent reduction in "part one" crimes, which include criminal homicides, robberies, forcible rapes, and aggravated assaults.
From January 1st - December 31st, 2013, there were 2,313 fewer victims of part one crimes reported as opposed to 2012, according to Memphis Police Department statistics. In 2012, there were 50,917 part one crimes that took place in Memphis. However, these numbers dropped by 4.5 percent to 48,604 crimes last year.
Among the part one offenses that have decreased include criminal homicide. There were 11 fewer criminal homicides in 2013 compared to 2012, which is a 7.9 percent decline. Also, there were 71 fewer forcible rapes in 2013 compared to 2012, which is nearly a 17 percent decrease.
Other part one crimes that declined in 2013 include robbery, which saw a 7.5 percent reduction; aggravated assault, which was reduced by 5.9 percent; burglary, which saw a 5.3 percent reduction; and motor vehicle theft was reduced by 8.7 percent.
“We do not believe that these reductions could have been realized without the hard work of our officers utilizing crime fighting and efficiency promoted by the department,” said MPD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph in a statement. “These methods include our Community Outreach Program (COP), Blue CRUSH, Precinct realignment and the movement of General Investigation Bureaus back to the precincts. All of these initiatives have worked hand-in-hand to accomplish the city’s success in reducing crime.”
Since 2006, the city has experienced a 29 percent reduction of part one crimes. There were nearly 20,000 fewer victims in 2013 (48,604) than 2006 (68,543).
A gun was detected in the backpack of an Overton High School student this morning as the 15-year-old boy passed through the school's metal detectors.
A .25-caliber RG26 handgun was retrieved from the backpack. It was not loaded, but the backpack also contained a magazine with five live rounds.
Shelby County Sheriff's officers were called to the scene. They arrested the student and charged him with possession of a weapon on school property. He was transported to Shelby County Juvenile Court.
Amos Patton of Cordova has been charged with one count of assault within the maritime and territorial jurisdiction and one count of carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a federal crime of violence following yesterday's afternoon shooting at the Tennessee Army National Guard Recruiting Center in Millington.
On October 24th, Patton, 42, was asked by his commanders at the recruiting center to come in for a meeting. At that meeting, he was notified that he was being relieved of duty and recommended for a reduction in rank and a separation from active duty because of misconduct, according to an affidavit of complaint.
Patton was asked to return some government property, so he went to his government vehicle and returned with what was described in the affidavit as a "fanny pack." When Patton reached into the pack, a Tennessee Army National Guardsmen yelled and another officer attempted to subdue him. But Patton was still able to fire the gun he had in the pack. Shots fired from the gun struck three National Guard personnel.
Patton ran from the building, but he was caught and held until the Millington Police Department arrived and arrested him.
Patton faces up to 20 years for assault and a minimum of 10 years for the firearms charge if he is convicted.
Paula Jamerson, a former Memphis Police officer who was assigned to the Ridgeway Station precinct, has been indicted for using fraudulent prescriptions to obtain drugs.
She's been charged with four counts of obtaining a controlled substance by forged prescription after allegedly stealing prescription sheets from her doctor's office on Shelby Drive and using them to fill prescriptions for Phentermine, a weight loss pill.
If convicted, Jamerson faces a class D felony that carries a sentence of two to four years. Jamerson resigned from the police department on January 2nd.
Members of the Riverside Rollin' 90's Neighborhood Crips (R90) can be arrested for so much as appearing in public together, among a list of other activities, in a 4.6-mile "safety zone" in the Riverview-Kansas neighborhood. The zone was established by a court injunction from the Shelby County Environmental Court and announced at a press conference in front of a gang-tagged, blighted home on Farrington Street in South Memphis.
The injunction came as a result of a nuisance petition against the R90 gang filed by District Attorney General Amy Weirich and Memphis City Attorney Herman Morris. That petition was filed following a 10-month investigation into the gang's activities in the Riverview-Kansas community by the Multi-Agency Gang Unit (MGU). Founded last year, the MGU is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the D.A.'s office, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, and the Memphis Police Department.
If any known member of the R90 gang is spotted in the safety zone — bordered by South Parkway East, West Mallory, I-55, and Florida Street — doing any of the following, he or she can be arrested and charged with contempt of court:
1. Associating with other R90 gang members in public, excluding at school or in church
2. Intimidating people who have been known witnesses to R90 gang activities.
3. Possessing guns or illegal weapons.
4. Defacing private property ("tagging") or possessing tools for graffiti
5. Possessing, selling, or using drugs or paraphernalia.
6. Acting as a lookout to warn other gang members of the presence of law enforcement
7. Possessing open containers of alcohol in public
8. Trespassing on private property
9. Forcibly recruiting new gang members
10. Preventing gang members from leaving the gang through threats to strike or assault that person
11. Breaking any other law
Special agent Michael P. Knight, public information officer for the ATF Nashville Field Division, did say there's nothing to stop these gang members from taking their activities elsewhere, but he said the MGU would pursue injunctions such as this in other neighborhoods where gang activity is present. He said this "safety zone" makes that 4.6-mile area better for the 4,000-some residents who live there.
The nuisance petition included photos of gang graffiti on about 30 buildings and dwellings in the "safety zone." Today, after the press conference announcing the injunction, teams began pressure-washing and painting over the graffiti.
During the 10-month investigation in this area, there were 1,200 calls to police with at least one shooting per day. Within a week of filing the petition, four people were shot near the intersection of Farrington and Hollowell, close to where the press conference was held on Monday. During the investigation, some residents told officers that they did not allow their children to play outside for fear of gang violence, and some admitted to sleeping under their beds to take cover from frequent gunfire.
R90 members will be offered a way to opt out of the injunction, but they must declare in writing that they are a reformed member of the gang, and they must renounce their gang affiliation for life. They must file a motion for the court to dismiss, and they cannot have any arrests on their records for the past two years.
"If you are in this gang and looking for a way out other than dying, this is your chance," Weirich announced at the press conference.
Wizards, Whatever, the Highland Smoke Shop, and numerous other local smoke shops were shut down as public nuisances this morning, and arrest warrants were issued for employees and owners of multiple shops on various charges relating to the possession and distribution of illegal synthetic drugs, most commonly known as "spice" and "bath salts."
The raids and resulting arrest warrants were part of a nationwide Drug Enforcement Agency crackdown — dubbed "Project Synergy" — on businesses that sell synthetic drugs. The synthetic drugs mimic pot ("spice") and amphetamines ("bath salts").
"The indictments allege an international web of distribution of synthetic drugs," said U.S. Attorney General Edward Stanton.
The two-year investigation involving federal, state, and local law enforcement led to hundreds of purchases and seizures from 34 different stores in West Tennessee, from Memphis to Jackson. The West Tennessee crackdown involved 76 search warrants and 35 arrest warrants. Most of those arrested are charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute, and some were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. Most face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for each conspiracy count.
The Shelby County District Attorney's Office handled the nuisance closures. Owners of those businesses must appear in Environmental Court on July 1st.
Before "spice" was made illegal in Tennessee, Flyer reporter Bianca Phillips gave it a try. Read about that experience here.
Between February 2012 and February 2013, Larry Dean Brunson, Mable Sutton and Debra Nesbit allegedly allowed people to pay them a fee to dump trash onto their properties in Frayser. Now Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton have filed nuisance petitions against the three property owners.
The petitions came after a year-long investigation by the Memphis Police Department and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation into illegal dumping sites. The illegal dumps were identified at 3449 Dillard, 3498 Dillard, and 3286 Arwine, properties belonging to Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit. Oneal Payne and Warren Payne of Payne Enterprises, a local construction company, were reported to have been caught dumping illegally on the properties.
This morning, Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter issued injunctions against the property owners. "No trespassing" signs have been placed on the properties by the Memphis Police Department. Brunson, Sutton, and Nesbit are ordered to appear in court on Monday, May 20th.
According to figures from the Shelby County Public Works Division, the average cost to clean up illegal dumpsites and landfills in Shelby County is around $162 per hour. Since January 2012, Public Works has cleaned up 562 dumpsites at a total cost of $92,278.05. To date 2013, work crews have cleared one 193 dumpsites.
Memphis Police officer Alex Beard has been terminated from the department following an administrative hearing yesterday concerning a fatal crash in which Beard's police cruiser collided with another vehicle on Crump last August.
On August 26th, 23-year-old Beard was traveling in non-emergency mode eastbound on Crump. A 1996 Mercury Mystique was traveling down Crump in the opposite direction. When the driver of the Mystique was making a turn to go south on Walnut Road, Beard's car collided with it. The Mystique then struck a pole on the south side of Crump.
The driver of that vehicle was transported to the Regional Medical Center in critical condition, but he was later released. His passengers, 54-year-old Delores Epps and 13-year-old Mackala Epps, died at the scene.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigated the crash and sent their findings to the District Attorney's Office. The administrative hearing was conducted yesterday, and Beard was charged with failure to comply with department regulations relating to response to call, personal conduct, and damage to motor vehicle. He was terminated. Beard had been employed by the MPD since October 2010.
Memphis Police officers Ned Aufdenkamp and Matthew Dyess have been approved to return to duty in a non-enforcement capacity after the Attorney General's office determined that no criminal charges will be filed against them for their role in the shooting death of a man who had been sleeping in his car at an apartment complex. The Memphis Police Department is working on its administrative investigation.
Aufdenkamp and Dyess responded to a loud music complaint at the apartment complex near Knight Arnold on the night of January 17th. When they were unable to locate the source of the music, the officers began patrolling the parking lot. They found 24-year-old Steven Askew asleep in his Crown Victoria, and the officers observed a gun inside the car.
The officers knocked on the windows, and when Askew noticed their presence, he allegedly picked up his gun and pointed it at the officers. Both officers then shot Askew with their duty weapons. A witness caught part of the incident on video, and some believe the officers fired additional shots into the car after Askew was already deceased. But MPD director Toney Armstrong said, based on his observations of the video, that no extra gunshots were fired.
Both officers were relieved of duty without pay following the incident, but they are now being allowed to return to work.
Aufdenkamp is currently assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station and has been employed by the MPD since July of 2007. Dyess is also assigned to the Mt. Moriah Station and has been employed by the MPD since June of 2010.
One of the Memphis Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of 24-year-old Steven Askew has a less-than-stellar personnel file.
According to his personnel file, Officer Ned Aufdenkamp was already on the Memphis Police Department's radar for past performance problems and was submitted for the department's Early Intervention Program in 2012.
On Thursday, January 17th, Officer Aufdenkamp and Officer Matt Dyess responded to a loud music complaint on Tyrol Court in the Aspenwood Apartments. Although they did not hear any loud music, they did notice a man, Steven Askew, asleep in a Crown Victoria. When they approached, the two noticed a handgun in Askew's car. Aufdenkamp and Dyess then knocked on the windows and issued verbal commands to Askew, who, according to the officers, armed himself with his gun and pointed it at them. The two officers fired their weapons and Askew was killed. Officers Aufdenkamp and Dyess have both been relieved of duty with pay while the matter is investigated.
Among other things, Aufdenkamp's file reveals four workstation complaints against him and seven reports filed by Aufdenkamp of citizens resisting arrest — including five within a three month period and some that involved the use of chemical spray and physical force.
"The supervisors were bothered by the frequency and proximity of the resisting arrests, the use of chemical spray, and the resulting injuries to either Aufdenkamp or the suspect," the report reads. "Several complainants explained, in their own words, that they felt Aufdenkamp would intentionally ratchet up the level of pressure on the scene when it wasn't necessary."
On January 5th, 2012, Aufdenkamp was involved in a verbal altercation with a fellow officer on a traffic stop. According to the report, "the original conversation was with another officer, but Aufdenkamp interjected himself into the altercation and other officers had to stop between them to prevent it from escalating."
Later that month, the Internal Affairs Bureau received a complaint that Officer Aufdenkamp was "rude and disrespectful" during a traffic stop and had "approached with his gun out."
Aufdenkamp was then referred to the Early Intervention Program and placed on desk duty. In March of 2012, Aufdenkamp was ordered to attend Anger Management.
There are numerous other instances in which Aufdenkamp apparently did not follow protocol, failing to report when he bottomed out and disabled his patrol car in May of 2011, and leaving roll call to engage in what became a unreported domestic disturbance in September of that same year. In April of 2011, MPD received a complaint that Aufdenkamp stopped a violator and supposedly roughed him up, searched him for no reason, broke his rear windshield with a flashlight, and got on his loud speaker and said, "Speed up or I'm going to take your black-ass to jail."
"The supervisors would like Officer Aufdenkamp to learn to use his verbal skills more effectively," the report summary reads. "As a result of the Department Investigation, Aufdenkamp was temporarily assigned to the Precinct front desk because if he continues to generate complaints, he could be placed in an official non-enforcement status for up to six months, according to the rules of the Early Intervention Program."