Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tennessee: 'Victims' part of robbery try

Memphis, Tennessee

From the Commercial Appeal of August 11, 2009
'Victims' part of robbery try

A victim's tale of robbery and murder unraveled when investigators learned that she'd participated in the stickup that backfired and turned deadly, police said Monday.

Ashley Brannon, 22, has been charged with facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery.

Brannon told police Thursday morning that a man forced his way into the back seat of her 2008 Dodge Avenger about 6:30 a.m. outside the Exxon at 4040 S. Third, pulling a gun and demanding money.

She told officers a friend in the passenger seat, Gregory Mitchell, 18, struggled with the robber, then was shot to death.

But another version of the homicide emerged during the investigation.

According to a police affidavit:

Brannon, boyfriend Calvin Jefferson, Mitchell, and another man, Edgar Smith, 24, spent the early morning hours Thursday gambling, and Smith was seen with "a large amount of money."

Brannon later drove Mitchell and Smith to the Exxon, ostensibly to get money Brannon's boyfriend owed Smith.

Brannon went inside the Exxon, then came out holding money she'd pretended to withdraw from the ATM. Mitchell then pulled a gun and turned to rob Smith, who was sitting in the rear seat.

But Smith pulled his own gun and shot Mitchell.

Brannon then drove south on Third, stopping briefly after Smith, who was trapped in the back seat by the child safety locks, told her to let him out.

He ran away.

Brannon then turned west on Raines and drove to Westmont, about a mile and a half from the Exxon, where she stopped the car and called Jefferson, who came to the scene. Jefferson has not been charged in the case.

Brannon then called 911.

Mitchell died on Westmont from his gunshot wounds.

Monday afternoon, stuffed animals and a bright red poster bearing hand-written "RIP" notes for Mitchell were affixed to a nearby power pole.

The shooting has been ruled self-defense, said Memphis Police Department spokeswoman Karen Rudolph. No one else has been charged, although the investigation is continuing, she said.

Brannon, who was being held on $40,000 bond, made an initial court appearance Monday morning.

**Emphasis added**

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