Phone records and statements from co-defendants show that Johnathon Lemorris Swift was at the Pizza Hut on the night rapper Branden Denson was shot to death in his Jeep Wrangler, a police detective testified Tuesday in Recorder’s Court.
Swift, 27, pleaded not guilty to one count each of murder and armed robbery in the April 6 death of Denson in the parking lot at 4236 Buena Vista Road. Judge Julius Hunter bound the charges without bond over to Muscogee Superior Court .
Swift is the fourth suspect held in the death of 32-year-old Denson, who was known as “Billion Dollar BD.” He joins 24-year-old Tommie Jamal Mullins, an aspiring rap artist and the one accused in planning the shooting, Dover Bartlett Coppins, 24, and Eric Randall Spencer, 29.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
Police detective Robert Nicholas said information from video surveillance and witnesses indicate Swift was involved in the shooting death. Records show that his phone was at the location of the 10:28 p.m. shooting.
Police have said Mullins planned the robbery of about 16 pounds of marijuana that Denson had in the Jeep. For the first time since the case was investigated, Nicholas said the vehicle that pulled into the parking lot and was viewed on video was a rented Kia. No prints from the vehicle or a weapon have been recovered in the case.
After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Eddings said police are stating they have testimony from alleged co-defendants but there is no physical evidence, fingerprints or weapons recovered linking Swift to the shooting.
“He is not on the camera being inside the vehicle,” Eddings said. “He is not seen on footage being inside the vehicle on that particular day. The only thing they allegedly have is statements from other people who were captured on the video and those statements would suggest they had phone communication with him.”
Eddings questioned whether Swift actually has a phone. “They said the co-defendants gave a number allegedly of Mr. Swift’s phone,” he said. “We don’t know if he owns a phone. It is possible he didn’t even have a phone. I’m told they were able to track the phone records.“
Police also are looking for a fifth suspect, Tyree Jaquan Smith, in connection with Denson’s death. Smith is described as 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 155 pounds. He has tattoos “Flossie” on his right arm and “S” on the right arm.
Anyone with information on Smith should contact Robert Nicholas at 706-225-4363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.