"Victim" In Cleveland's Valentine's Day Triple Murder Now Facing Death Penalty Trial

Attorney Lee Davis Says He Has "Seen No Evidence" Of Her Guilt

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The lone survivor of a Valentine's Day 1999 triple murder at an apartment at 431 19th Street in Cleveland, Tn., is now looking at a possible death penalty sentence after being charged earlier in the case.

But her Chattanooga attorney, Lee Davis, said, "I've seen no evidence that she was involved in this murder. It was only through the help of EMTs that she survived the shooting herself.

"When the killers left, they thought they had killed four people, not three."

Tawanna Blair is set to go to trial in Cleveland on Aug. 18, but only if the trial of a co-defendant, Maurice Johnson, does not go forward on Aug. 17.

No arrests were made in the case for seven years. Then Johnson and Michael Younger were accused of the slayings.

Attorney Davis said, "Then, Tawanna Blair was arrested and later on, she's facing the death penalty too."

Killed execution style that night were O.J. Blair, the cousin of Tawanna Blair; Dawn Rogers, roommate of Tawanna Blair, and Cacci Higgins.

Attorney Davis said the slayings apparently traced back to a disagreement at an earlier party in Sweetwater.

He said Ms. Blair was shot in the back, but managed to call 911 after the gunmen left. He said the bullet damaged some internal organs and hit her spinal cord, "but she made a pretty miraculous recovery."

The others were shot multiple times.

Attorney Davis said, "She has always maintained her innocence."

He called it a case of "misguided prosecution."

It was ruled earlier that the three defendants will be tried separately.

The TBI had helped reopen the case in 2006, saying there had been "new leads" obtained. At that time, the TBI released the 911 tape and asked that anyone with information about the case to "search your conscience" and contact the agency.

The Valentine's Day murder trial in Cleveland is set to open the same week as the Sam Parker murder trial to the south in LaFayette, Ga.

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