The capital murder case of Michael “Money” Younger is expected to get under way today in Bradley County Criminal Court. Attorneys and the court have been going through the arduous task of selecting a jury to hear the death penalty case.
According to court officials, the jury will be sequestered during the course of the trial. With this Sunday being Mother’s Day, Judge Amy Reedy said supervised visits will be granted to the families of the jurors.
Cayci Higgins, Dawn Rogers and Orenthal “O.J.” Blair, were found shot to death Feb. 14, 1999. Twanna “Tart” Blair was also shot but survived. At one time a defendant in the case, Blair was acquitted when evidence failed to show she played a role in the killings. Maurice Johnson, who was convicted in August 2009, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Michael A. “Money” Younger is charged with three counts of first-degree murder. He is facing death if convicted, according to court filings. Higgins, Rogers and the Blairs were shot inside a 19th Street apartment on Valentine’s Day 1999. Higgins was 19; Rogers, a mother of two small children, was 25; and O.J. Blair was 18.
The case went cold. In 2006, the case was revived by Lt. Danny Chastain, Cleveland Police Department investigator Duff Brumley and investigators with the TBI and other agencies. Due to complexities of the case and lack of cooperation, it took investigators with a variety of agencies seven years to bring charges against the suspects in the shootings. The shootings were believed to have stemmed from alleged illegal drug trafficking, money and possible revenge for a fight and shooting which broke out approximately 28 hours before in Sweetwater.
According to court officials, testimony will be heard Saturday, but jurors will not be required to work Sunday and the trial will resume Monday. Younger’s attorneys are Kimberly Parton of Knoxville and John Cavett Jr. of Chattanooga. District Attorney General assistants Richard Fisher and Paul Rush will be presenting the case for the state. The trial is expected to last several days.