Witness Describes Son's Stormy Relationship With Woman Who Allegedly Killed Him

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - by Joseph Dycus

The mother-in-law of a Chattanooga woman who allegedly murdered her boyfriend testified Tuesday that the two had a tumultuous relationship. Sheba Coppit was on the witness stand in the courtroom of Criminal Court Judge Don Poole.

Emily Leanne Brooks (also known as Ember Lee Cash Elm),  28, is charged with shooting Eric Burchfield in July 2017. The victim's family was in the gallery as attorneys argued whether or not there was probable cause for police to arrest Ms. Brooks before a certain point.

In 2017, Ms. Brooks allegedly shot and killed her boyfriend outside of a Circle K gas station. According to Mr. Burchfield’s mother, Sheba Coppit, the couple had argued previously that evening. 

“We wanted to accept her, because my son loved her, but it got tough,” said Mrs. Coppit, “It went from good to bad.”

Mrs. Coppit characterized Mr. Burchfield and Ms. Brooks’ relationship as “abusive,” with the abuse coming from Ms. Brooks. She said the defendant showed up to their house a few hours before the shooting, even though Ms. Brooks was not welcome at the family’s house.

“She seemed upset, and she did not want to leave because he owed her money,” said Ms. Coppit. The mother said that while her son did not leave with his ex-girlfriend, he met up with her at a later time. Ms. Coppit said her last interaction with her son was a text from him saying he was with Ms. Brooks.

Investigator Phillip McClain said a witness described the aftermath of what happened at the Circle K. While the witness did not see the shooting, she saw a blonde woman leaving. Ms. Coppit described Ms. Brooks as a slender blonde woman with shoulder-length hair, as did the witness.  

Investigator Phillips found Mr. Burchfield’s phone and observed contentious texts sent from Ms. Brooks’ number. When CPD tracked her number, they found their way to a trailer park. Ms. Brooks’ RV was parked in the area, and they were able to meet her.

The person of interest now looked wildly different. Her once long blonde hair had turned into a red buzz cut. Police noticed red dye stains on her shirt. Investigator Phillips said she immediately ran away before police could even attempt to speak with her. After handcuffing Ms. Brooks, he turned away, only to notice a sound.

“I heard the pitter-patter of feet,” said Investigator Phillips, “and she’s off running.”

As CPD apprehended her again, Ms. Brooks was reaching into an unzipped bag. When police looked into the bag, they found a gun matching the shell casing they found next to Mr. Burchfield’s body. She was then taken into custody.

Attorney Boyd Patterson of the Public Defender's office argued that police did not have probable cause to arrest her at the point they did, which is when she ran away the first time. He said police had reasonable suspicion, but not probable cause. Because of this, attorney Patterson argued for the suppression of the gun as evidence.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Crystle Carrion emphasized the defendant's apparent guilt. The prosecutor said Brooks changed appearance because she wanted to hide, and her running away from police twice could be seen as possible guilt, as well as resisting arrest.

After listening to both arguments, Judge Poole decided he needed more time to rule on whether or not to suppress the evidence during a trial. He set a date of Dec. 10 for the next motion date. On that day, the trial date will be decided.  

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