Woman, 26, Who Was Set To Testify In Murder Trial, Is Shot And Killed On Elder Street

  • Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A 26-year-old woman who was set to testify in an upcoming murder trial was shot multiple times and killed on Wednesday morning.

Chattanooga Police responded to the 2100 block of Elder Street on a report of a dead person on the side of the road near Old Ringgold Road and Westside Drive. Police located Bianca Horton. 

Police established a crime scene. Chattanooga Police Violent Crime Bureau investigators initiated an investigation.

 An attempt to locate witnesses was made at surrounding residences and businesses. The victim suffered injuries from gunshots and was transported by HCEMS to the Medical Examiner's Office.

Ms. Horton was set to testify in the murder trial of Cortez Sims, who was 17 at the time he was charged in a shooting at College Hill Courts that left one woman dead, a toddler paralyzed, and two others wounded.

Prosecutor Lance Pope, at an earlier hearing in Juvenile Court, said Sims was apparently going after Marcel "Baby Watts" Christopher, but he said, "unbelievably he shot first into the bedroom occupied by the woman who let him in the house and the baby." Then he said he turned the gun toward Christopher and his girlfriend, Ms. Horton. Christopher was shot multiple times, including near the heart, the lungs and the stomach as well as the side.

Ms. Horton at the hearing said her friend, Talitha Bowman, was in a bedroom with two of her (Ms. Horton's) children, while Ms. Horton was in another bedroom with Christopher. She said she saw Ms. Bowman going downstairs. Ms. Bowman answered a knock at the door and let Sims inside, it was testified. He proceeded up the stairs.

Ms. Horton said she heard Ms. Bowman say, "Baby Watts, somebody wants you."

The witness, who became choked up several times, said she then saw Sims outside the bedroom door where Ms. Bowman and the children were sleeping. She said, "He was holding a gun and shooting into the room."

She said he then moved outside their bedroom and began firing at them. She was grazed, and she said Christopher went to the floor with multiple gunshot wounds.

Ms. Horton said she went to the other bedroom and found her friend lying dead on the floor. She said she checked on her 15-month-old child, Zoey Horton, and saw that her t-shirt was covered with blood. She said, "I raised it up to see where she had been hit."

She said Zoey was left paralyzed by the incident and she had to have therapy in Atlanta and is still seeing multiple doctors.

Ms. Horton said she barely knew Sims, saying she had seen him about a month earlier "in a roomful of people." She said she heard someone call his name on that occasion.

Video that was played at the hearing showed Ms. Horton sitting against a wall in her daughter's bedroom and being summoned by detectives, who were quizzing her about who had done the shooting.

Police were also asking Christopher, as he lay on the floor, who carried out the shooting. A detective said, "We need to know who did it."

Christopher looked up and said, "Cortez Sims."

He was asked, "Why did he do it?"

Christopher answered, "I don't know."

Christopher asked if he was shot in the heart. An officer told him, "You were shot in the side. You are going to be fine."  

Prosecutor Pope asked for "an extremely high bond." He said Sims had been trying to contact the victims to get them not to testify.

Judge Philyaw set the bond at $1 million on the charge of first-degree murder. The bond is $200,000 each on three counts of attempted murder. It is $25,000 for reckless endangerment, $20,000 for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and $5,000 on a gun charge.

Sims was taken immediately to the Hamilton County Jail, where he was to be segregated from adult inmates until he turned 18.

 Chattanooga Police Violent Crime Bureau Investigators continue to follow all actionable leads in the murder of Bianca Horton.

Chattanooga Police ask anyone with information regarding this crime to call 423-698-2525

Following the startling discovery of the death of Bianca Horton, Mayor Andy Berke said, "Today I received devastating news that Bianca Horton was found dead. This loss of life is a loss to our entire community. Ms. Horton has been through so much. Her family and her daughter deserve our support and justice. 

"If you have information about this case, I plead with you to work with our police department. Please contact them no matter how insignificant you think the information may be."

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