The motion for charges to be dropped was filed last week against the third defendant, Michael Younger, accused of killing Cayci Higgins, O.J. Blair and Dawn Rogers.
District Attorney General Steve Bebb cited alleged credibility issues with former Cleveland Police Detective Duff Brumley as the reason for the motion to dismiss.
Maurice Johnson was convicted in the triple murder and is currently serving life without the possibility of parole in a Tennessee prison.
Another defendant, Twanna “Tart” Blair, faced charges as well, but her trial ended in mistrial. She was also wounded during the shooting, but survived and officials originally thought she was a victim, but charged her later.
Investigators believed the shootings occurred because of a reported fight which occurred in Sweetwater the night before. The bodies of the three victims were found in their apartment near the downtown area.
The statement reads: “It is with a huge range of emotions that we, the family of Cayci Higgins, are making this plea to all residents of Cleveland and Bradley County. By coming directly to you, our friends and neighbors, it is our hope that you will give us your support against a decision that has been arbitrarily made by the district attorney, Steve Bebb.
“Mr. Bebb informed us with one day’s notice of his intention to file a motion to drop all remaining charges against two of the suspects who have been indicted by a grand jury for Cayci’s murder. Regardless of whatever misconduct may or may not have taken place by a detective, or a judge, or any other person related to this case, we maintain that a jury needs to decide the guilt or innocence of those who have been indicted.
“More than one detective has worked on this case and could be called on to testify; there is more than one qualified judge in the state of Tennessee who could be assigned this trial. Issues with any past improper conduct should not stop this case from going to a jury. It is the job of the district attorney to maintain the integrity of this case, not to simply give it up.
“Mr. Bebb’s public assertion that the defendant cannot receive a fair trial is not only inappropriate but creates a bias in favor of the defendant. Even though his statements, in our opinion, could result in prejudice for the accused, our family is willing to take our chances with a duly selected jury of fellow citizens of Bradley County.
“We believe that the people in our community who might be called to jury duty in this case will be people of integrity, intelligence and with respect for the law.
“Regardless of our pleas, our tears and our outrage, this action has gone forward. Without regard to the opinions of the family members or for the miscarriage of justice this represents for the entire community, Mr. Bebb has filed the motion and it will soon be heard in Bradley County court. This is an insult to the entire community and a defining moment for every citizen who wants to believe that the district attorney’s office is in place to prosecute, on behalf of the citizens who elected him to office, anyone who has been indicted for a crime — especially murder.
“Over the past 12 years, we did everything we knew to do to make sure this case was kept open and that our local law enforcement remained committed to bringing the murderers to justice. The arrests were made and the indictments were handed down by the grand jury.
“And now, Mr. Bebb has decided to drop the charges. It is an outrage.
“No one can understand the pain and agony of having a child murdered unless you have lived through it. But, we do hope that you, our friends and neighbors, can relate to our disgust, frustration and anger at the action taken by Mr. Bebb to simply let the two remaining defendants go free without having complete trials and final verdicts handed down by a jury. This is not only a basic right of those who stand accused, but it is also a basic right for the families of the victims of violent crimes.
“When told that we believe the district attorney was supposed to be our representative, we were told that is not true; that Mr. Bebb represents the state. We believe we are the state — we, and all of you, are the citizens of this community — of this state. We have the right and deserve to have full and fair consideration and representation when such a horrific crime as a triple murder has taken place among us. We wonder if Mr. Bebb’s actions are motivated by self-interest which has become his motivation instead of his responsibility to those he serves.
“Please, we implore you, stand with us in this situation and make your voices heard. We need a district attorney who will go the distance; who has the moral fiber to see this through and who has an uncompromising passion for defending what is decent and just and is a basic tenant of our judicial system. We want this district attorney to be stopped from trading off the rights of those he has been elected to serve. And, we want a full investigation into the reasons for this bizarre, inappropriate and unexpected decision.
“We are asking you to please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chattanooga at 752-5140 or in Knoxville at 865-545-4167 and ask for a full investigation of this action and the reasons behind it.”
The statement was signed by Sherri Hartgraves for the Higgins family.
Roy Higgins, Cayci Higgins’ father, said last week, “Here we nearly reach the end. It has been a long time we have suffered and all of the sudden, this happens.”
Higgins said today, “We still think they ought to have a jury trial and see what happens there.”