Thursday, January 19, 2012
Fleming’s bond $1 million
By SUE WATSON
Murder suspect Rico Fleming of Fayette County, Tenn., made an initial appearance before justice court judge Mae Garrision, who set bond at $1 million Thursday of last week.
Fleming sighed heavily when Garrison set the bond.
Fleming, a suspect in the Christmas Day drive-by killing of 16-year-old Derica Patterson on Highway 72, was apprehended 17 days following the incident in St. Louis, Missouri, by U.S. Marshals and other law officers.
The 22-year-old appeared in justice court wearing a bullet-proof vest, ankle chains, handcuffs and orange apparel. He had hair braids, a goatee and mustache.
Garrison advised the suspect of his charges – one count murder and five counts drive-by shooting – with the murder charge carrying a maximum life sentence upon conviction. The drive-by charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, upon conviction.
Sheriff Kenny Dickerson asked the court to deny Fleming any bond due to the serious nature of the charges against him and to the fact that Fleming was a fugitive from the law for 17 days and “obviously a flight risk.”
He said a $50,000 bond Fleming was out on during the time of the Christmas Day incident, on charges of assault and robbery, has been revoked by authorities in Fayette County, Tenn.
Garrison set a preliminary hearing for Fleming for 9 a.m., February 29.
Dickerson then told the justice court he was comfortable with the $1 million bond. But he filed a motion Friday in circuit court seeking to have Fleming held without bond.
As Fleming exited the justice court escorted by sheriff’s deputies, he taunted the media with cameras, saying, “When I beat this charge, I want you to come, too, if I’m found innocent.”
Dickerson said the bulk of the investigation of the Christmas Day incident is completed. He has not spoken with Fleming, he said. He refused to specify the alleged roles investigators believe the three suspects played in the shooting.
At a press conference held Wednesday, Jan. 11, the sheriff and his investigative team and U.S. Marshal Chris Felix with the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, laid out the details of Fleming’s capture in St. Louis at about 5:50 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The details included:
• A multi-state and multi-agency investigation was launched seeking to locate the fugitive. The force included authorities from Fayette County, Marshall County, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the St. Louis Violent Offenders Task Force. The investigation was aided greatly by the media, particularly T.V. news teams who kept the matter before the public. Dickerson said close to 150 calls came in with individuals offering leads. Each lead was traced to its end, and in the end, tips played a large role in tracking the whereabouts of Fleming, he said.
• Fleming was holed up at 10236 Viscount Drive, in St. Louis, Missouri, where a female inside the house let SWAT team members know Fleming was inside the house and wanted to surrender to authorities. The house is believed to be the residence of distant relatives of the fugitive.
• Fleming was unarmed and prone on the floor when officers entered the house. He waived extradition proceedings and was returned to Marshall County shortly after 1 a.m., January 12. Fleming went before justice court at 1 p.m. Thursday, January 12, where his bond was set.
• The investigation was launched for three suspects Christmas Day and continued day and night for several days and immediately a multi-agency investigation was launched leading to the arrest of one suspect Cory Albright, 31, in Memphis, Tenn., on December 27. A second suspect, Christopher Collins, 16, of Rossville, Tenn., was arrested December 29 in Fayette County, Tenn.
• Taking all calls into consideration, investigators began to build up a puzzle until the pieces finally came together, said Maj. Kelly McMillen with the sheriff’s department. Several pages of names and phone numbers to call were collected during the investigation.
Most callers did not want any reward, but wanted the crime solved, Dickerson said.
“They wanted this guy off the street,” he said. “They were really fearful of this guy.”
• The drive-by shooting was thought to be the result of gang-related disputes between some members in the victims’ group and some members in the assailants’ group. The victims and suspects are not believed to have known each other at the time of the incident.
• One or more of the victims - all juveniles - were believed to have had words and possible physical contact at Club Emotion in the Slayden community first, carried the dispute to a service station on Highway 72, then left the station along Highway 72 West where the shooting occurred.
The club owner is being advised there will be legal consequences if he allows people under the age of 21 to enter the club, Dickerson said.
“He must stop this immediately,” the sheriff warned.
The club has had no complaints of underage individuals being inside but some complaints of excessive noise, loud music and overcrowding have been made, Dickerson said. He believes the bulk of the clientele at the club comes from Tennessee.
• The vehicle driven by the assailants was located behind a single-wide mobile home on Conery Road in Rossville. No guns have been located that are believed to be connected to the shooting, but shell casings found along Highway 72 near the site of the shooting indicate two assault rifles may have been fired.
• He said the suspects were believed to be out of the area within three or four days of the incident because of tips received from a number of anonymous callers.
• No other suspects are believed to have been involved.
Dickerson expressed sincere appreciation to the U.S. Marshals for their assistance in the investigation, saying, “They are oftentimes the unsung heroes in the criminal justice system.”
He also thanked his investigative team and the Fayette County authorities for working day and night on the case.
He described the case as coming together due to hard work.
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