A woman testified Monday in Red Bank Court that she still loves the man who chased her down and shot her on July 4. Monica Branham asked that charges be dropped against 34-year-old Antwan Lamar Jackson.
Instead, Judge Johnny Houston bound charges of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault to the Grand Jury against Jackson. Bond remains at $250,000 on each charge.
He bound 29-year-old Tiajuana Jo Ann "Tia" Dieffenderfer Cook, of 4125 Kirkland Ave., to the Grand Jury on the same charges and bond. She was the driver of the car that chased down a vehicle driven by Ms. Branham. The shooting happened on U.S. 27.
Judge Houston told Ms. Branham, "I find it incredible that you say you love a man who chased you down and shot you. I find that astonishing. You need to get smarter."
Ms. Branham said she and Jackson had been together for three years. She said she dropped him off at his residence on Grove Street on July 4 and went directly to pick up a Chattem co-worker, Roderick Hughes. She said they went to her cousin's house in Georgia and watched a movie. She said she had fallen asleep during the movie when she started getting calls from Jackson.
Hughes testified that Ms. Branham the week before had kicked Jackson out, but Ms. Branham denied they had broken up.
Ms. Branham said Jackson was angry about her being with another man and told her he was headed her way. She said she then left to drive Hughes home. But she said on Rossville Boulevard they passed a car driven by Ms. Cook with Jackson as the passenger. She said they spotted them and Ms. Cook spun around to give chase.
She said when she stopped at one red light that Jackson jumped out of the car and came after them. She sped off and ran several red lights before getting on the freeway headed toward Red Bank.
She said Ms. Cook, who she said has a child by Jackson's brother, caught up on the freeway, got ahead of her and then slammed on the brakes. She said after she was forced to stop that Jackson got out and fired several shots into the car.
She said she drove off quickly, almost hitting him. She was driving along on U.S. 27 when she "felt a bullet in my lap." She said she reached down and found that blood was on her hand. She drove to the next exit and went to Hardee's where her clothes were cut off her to get to the wound in her abdomen. She was in the hospital for five days and underwent surgery.
Ms. Branham said she has gone to the jail four times to see Jackson and got to talk to him a couple of times.
Asked why she did that, she said, "I love him and I'm going to be there for him. I don't think any of this would have happened if she hadn't been driving."
Hughes said he got a text message from Ms. Branham on the fourth and they made arrangement for her to pick him up at his house in St. Elmo. He said they were "just friends. We hadn't even kissed."
He said when he heard that Jackson was on the way, he put his shoes on. He said Jackson had been violent to her during their relationship, beating her up in public and in front of family members.
Hughes said, "I'm a real man. I refuse to let another dude put his hands on a female in front of me."
But, with Jackson known to carry a gun, he said it was decided that he be taken home.
He said during the chase, he kept telling Ms. Branham to speed up. He said he tried to get her to drive off when they were stopped on the freeway.
He said she collapsed in the floor after they had reached Hardee's.
Judge Houston said it has been said that Red Bank is getting more crime, but he said this case "could have happened anywhere. They just happened to stop in Red Bank."