Two key witnesses in the case in which 17-year-old Prandel Fitzgerald Reid is charged with murdering a man on Tunnel Boulevard again were not in court for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.
Also, the judge who heard the first part of the hearing, General Sessions Court Bob Moon, was not present.
The case was transferred down the hall to General Sessions Court Judge Ron Durby.
He said, "Judge Moon is the culprit. There is no way I can start out in the middle of this case." He said he did not know where Judge Moon was and when he would be back. The clerk's office was called, and Judge Durby was advised that Judge Moon will be off the rest of the week and will be back next Monday.
Judge Moon, reached from out of town, said, "I have not taken a complete week of vacation in the 13 years that I have been a General Sessions Court judge. In fact, I am not taking a complete week off this week.
"I checked every day last week before planning a few days to go fishing to see if the material witness had turned himself in or would be in court on Tuesday. I was informed that he had not and he would not be available.
"I have no control over the presence or absence of any witness other than to do what I'm doing, which is to authorize amnesty and issue a warrant for the missing witness's arrest."
The Reid case was passed until next Tuesday morning before Judge Moon.
Again, the only people present were the family of victim Richard Ervin and Alexis Mercado, the detective on the case. The detective is the only witness to be heard thus far.
Gary Johnson failed to come to court for the fourth time. The last time the case was set, Judge Moon said he was giving Johnson a 24-hour "amnesty" period. He said if he reported to court or to jail by 10 a.m. the next day, he would face no penalties. He didn't show and he still has not been found.
A $10,000 bond was set earlier in Johnson's case.
In addition to the arrest warrant, Johnson also faces three consecutive contempt of court warrants.
Reid's attorney asked Judge Durby to dismiss the murder charge, saying it was the fourth setting without any resolution to the matter and that the case was over a month old.
Reid is also being held on other charges. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman has set a hearing for July 13 on a state petition that a suspended sentence be revoked for armed robbery. The state is asking that he be required to serve the six years of the armed robbery sentence.
Prosecutor Lila Statom earlier said Johnson told her on the phone that he had been threatened and the only way he was coming to court was "in handcuffs."
Detective Mercado earlier testified that Johnson called police around 1 p.m. on May 6 and said there had been a shooting at 907 Tunnel Blvd. He said officers went to the scene, but found the duplex locked up. He said they left after looking through the window and not seeing anything amiss.
The detective said another call was received at 3:30 p.m. from one of the roommates of the victim, Christopher Newby, who had found the victim lying face down in an unused room at the residence. He said the roommate had to climb in a window after finding the duplex locked. After finding the body, he backed out and called 911.
He said the victim was shot in the head just behind the right ear.
The detective said he interviewed Reid after he was captured following a 40-minute chase through East Chattanooga.
He said Reid told him he did not know the victim and had never been to the duplex.
The youth who was in the car with Reid is also being sought as a state witness.