Meridian Star

March 20, 2014

Preliminary hearing held for 3 murder suspects

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Three people who have been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of a Georgia man appeared in front of Meridian Municipal Court Judge Robbie Jones Wednesday morning for their probable cause hearing.

    Terikay K. Rackley, and Jasper K. Hill, both 23, and 21-year-old Billy Ray Barrett, all of Meridian, were all arrested March 13 and charged with the murder of 27-year-old Christopher Lee Gregory. Gregory's body was found February 13 in a abandoned trailer at an old mobile home park located in the 3300 block of Old Marion Road.

    For several days Gregory's body was unidentified. Authorities with the MPD received several telephone tips later when information about distinctive tattoos on Gregory's body was released to the media. Those tips led to the eventual arrests.

    At the end of the proceedings, Jones concluded that the testimony had supplied sufficient evident to uphold the charges.

    "It is determined that enough was presented here today to lead me to believe a crime was committed and that each of these people were involved in some form," Jones said at the conclusion of the hearing. "I will decide on a bond amount for each and this case will be presented to the next available grand jury."

    Rackley was placed on $600,000 bond, down from the original $1.5 million she was previously given, while the bond for Hill remained at $1.5 million. Barrett's bond was reduced from $1.5 million to $750,000.

    The probable cause hearing was to determine if there had been a crime committed and if those arrested were involved. Testimony for the city of Meridian, was given by two detectives, Det. Dearelle Thompson, and Det. Marcus Wilburn.

    Wilburn took the statement of Rackley while Thompson took two statements from Hill. Barrett has not submitted any statements to authorities and has not participated in any inquiries by the MPD.

    During testimony it was revealed that Rackley and Hill were living together at the time of the alleged incident and that Gregory was also in a relationship with Rackley, although the extent Gregory and Rackley's relationship at the time of the shooting was in question. Hill told Thompson Rackley and Gregory had a joint bank account. Rackley did say in the statement that on at least three occasions Gregory had put money in the account shared by her and Gregory.

    The motive for the alleged murder was not revealed during the hearing. What was one of the major points of the questioning was that a meeting had been set up on Jan. 23 between Hill, Barrett, and Gregory in order to return a laptop computer that had been stolen from Gregory. Gregory, in addition to working offshore, was an aspiring hip-hop music producer. Testimony from Wilburn was that Gregory's "life", all the music he had produced up to that point, was stored on the laptop and that is why he was so anxious to get it back.

    Hill told Thompson the three men met on Jan. 23. Wilburn said during testimony that Gregory had been shot 14 times. Wilburn said the final autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office has not been sent to the MPD and that many of the questions would be unanswered until that report was made available. Both detectives, Wilburn and Thompson, said they believed Gregory was actually shot at another location and his body was taken to the abandoned trailer.

    No information about the location in which Gregory was shot was revealed during testimony.

    Hill did say in his statement to Thompson that he shot Gregory once in the leg. Hill implicated Barrett when he told Thompson that Barrett shot Gregory five more times.

    A preliminary report, separate from the final medical examiner's findings the MPD is still waiting to receive, states one bullet was recovered that had lodged in Gregory's neck. Two bullet wounds were to the left side, while still others were in the lower and upper parts of the body including in the groin area. Wilburn told defense attorneys four bullets were found in the body. Wilburn said there were 10 more wounds where the bullets passed through Gregory's body.

    Gregory's vehicle was found a week ago in Lauderdale parked behind a burned down house. Rackley led authorities to the vehicle.

    Several people associated with the three suspects and the Gregory family  were on hand to watch the proceedings. Anthony Gregory, the father of the victim, said he felt awful while listening to the testimony.    

    "I had no idea he had been shot so many times," Anthony Gregory said.

    Anthony Gregory didn't show much sympathy toward Rackley as the judge handed down a hefty bond amount.

    "She has a child and won't get to see him," he said. "But she took my child away. I won't be able to ever see him again."

    Irvin Gregory, Christopher Lee Gregory's brother, said as a pastor he feels he should forgive the three people charged in his brother's death.

    "But I won't ever forget," Irvin Gregory added. "The Bible said I should forgive but it doesn't say anything about forgetting what they have done to our family. They should serve their time."