Osei Sorrell Convicted In Case Where Victim Did Not Come To Court

Friday, August 18, 2017

A criminal court jury on Friday found Osei Sorrell guilty in a case in which the victim did not come to court.

He was found guilty as charged of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment.

Sorrell declined to testify. The only defense witness was his girlfriend of seven years, who said they met when he came up to her and asked for her number at a gas station.

She called him a caring and loving person.

The state on Thursday played a preliminary hearing tape of shooting victim Kadarius Johnson after he refused to come to the Criminal Court trial of the man accused of shooting him in the back of the head.

Witnesses said the car chase led through the downtown Tourist District near the Riverfront with a man in a white SUV firing shots at the driver of a Buick sedan.

Prosecutor Andrew Coyle said every effort had been made to contact Johnson, who he said told investigators that if he testified he would be labeled as a snitch and killed by other gang members.

It was testified that Johnson is a validated member of the Rollin' 20s Crips gang, though defendant Sorrell has no known gang affiliation.

In the testimony in General Sessions Court, Johnson said he was at the Avondale Recreation Center when he saw a white SUV with large rims go by. He said he was nearby outside the home of his girlfriend's grandmother on Roanoke Avenue when the white vehicle came by again. He said a black male stepped out and fired two shots, including one that hit him in the head.

He said he got in his car and drove downtown, followed by the white SUV. He said he got away from the vehicle at the Market Street Bridge and went on to his girlfriend's house in North Chattanooga. He said the girlfriend and her mother took him to the hospital.

However, at the time of the arrest of Sorrell on Sept. 23, 2015, police said Johnson told them the pursuit began on Dodson Avenue and that the man pulled beside him on E. 3rd Street and shot him there.

Johnson said he spent a night or two in the hospital. He said he did not have pain, but had some bleeding in the brain.

The rear windshield of his vehicle was shattered during the incident.

After police began looking for a white SUV, Sorrell was pulled over on E. 4th Street. Sorrell said he had no weapons in the vehicle. However, police recovered a loaded .22 WHR semi-automatic handgun and two magazines of ammunition under the driver’s seat. 

Police said gunshot residue was found inside and outside the GMC Yukon that Sorrell was driving.

Johnson did not come to court though a necessary witness warrant was issued against him.

Prosecutor Coyle and an investigator personally served a subpoena on Johnson when he showed up for a recent appointment with a probation officer. 

An investigator said she was able to speak to Johnson and he told her "he did not want to be here. He did not want to be labeled as a snitch. He said if he did he would be dead." 

A fugitive officer said he made numerous attempts to find Johnson without success. He said he was able to speak with his mother, who said she was also looking for him.

A victim/witness coordinator said Johnson felt if he came to court "he would either be shot or killed."

Defense attorney Josh Weiss said Johnson had been arrested twice by the time he was shot and four times since. He said one of those was about a month after he was shot and involved Johnson allegedly carrying out a gang shooting.

Detective Jared Hamilton said he went to the hospital to try to interview Johnson and arrived to see a doctor pulling the bullet from the back of his head using a device "like a salad tong."

The jury heard the detective's interview of Sorrell, who said he spent three hours with a lady friend at a house off North Market Street in North Chattanooga, then was stopped by an officer on Fourth Street as he headed home.

He did not flinch when the detective told him he was caught on camera firing at the other car. Detective Hamilton acknowledged there was no such video.

He said, "I was using a technique called 'reasonable deception.' I was trying to elicit a confession." He said that "reasonable deception" is part of "the training I've had at the department."

Under cross-examination from attorney Weiss, he said no photo lineups were shown. He said he did not try to retrieve any video of the chase from businesses along the route. He said the case was "closed" upon the defendant's arrest.

Attorney Weiss noted that one witness said the SUV was a newer vehicle, while Sorrell has an older, damaged one.

An employee of Hi-Point Climbing downtown said he was on a second floor overhang when the cars sped past with one driver firing at the other. 

Detective Hamilton said he did not get video from a gas station on North Market where Sorrell said he went briefly after leaving the woman's house. Sorrell said he went inside, but turned around after realizing he did not have money for gas.

The detective said he was not able to locate the woman Sorrell said he was with that afternoon. Sorrell said she was Natasha Slay.

 

 

 

 

 



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