A Blount County judge has dismissed a homicide charge against a former University Tennessee football recruit in the stabbing death earlier this year of a Maryville man, but did find probable cause to send the same charge against three others in the case to a grand jury.
Blount County General Sessions Judge William R. Brewer Jr. said prosecutors failed to show probable cause 23-year-old Camion D. Patrick was involved in the July 25 stabbing death of 18-year-old Caleb Radford.
The charge was dismissed Tuesday evening following a preliminary hearing in the case. Charges against three others, including Patrick’s brother, Isaiah Wright, 20, will proceed to a grand jury to determine if indictments should follow.
Wright, of Harriman, remains held at the Blount County jail on $1 million bond, along with the two other suspects, Keshawn Lonnell Hopewell, 21, South Linden Drive, Alcoa, and Itiq Tivone Green, 28, Topside Road, Louisville.
Victim Robbed, Stabbed
Prosecutors said Radford was the target of a robbery, one all four suspects were aware of. They also had the evidence to put all four men arriving in a vehicle at an apartment complex off Topside Road the night of July 25.
It was a meeting Hopewell had set up earlier that day. The plan, at least as far as Radford knew, was for Radford to purchase a half-pound of marijuana, a portion of which he would then sell to Hopewell.
While Patrick and Wright remained behind at the apartment complex, Hopewell and Green got into Radford’s vehicle and drove away. The two suspects agreed on that and one other thing — Hopewell was in the front passenger seat; Green was in the back seat. Their stories diverged from there.
Hopewell said Green stabbed Radford. Green admitted to this, but said it happened after Radford had first been stabbed by Hopewell. Green said he also stabbed Radford in self-defense after Radford turned around and grabbed onto his shirt.
Green said he knew Hopewell planned to rob someone. He didn’t realize it was Radford until that moment, he said.
“I thought, ‘This must be going down,’” Green said during a police interview played at Tuesday’s hearing. “All I remember was he (Radford) said ... ‘Oh please don’t kill me.’ And (he) grabbed me.”
The amount of money taken from Radford varied from each defendant’s account, totaling somewhere between $800 and $1,000.
Hopewell and Green then ran back to the apartment complex where Wright and Patrick were waiting. All four then drove away, stopping at Hopewell’s grandmother’s house in Alcoa before driving to a Harriman residence where Patrick and Wright were living.
‘Get the Money’
Wright, who was interviewed by Alcoa Police in Harriman on Aug. 1, initially said he had no knowledge of what Hopewell and Green were planning. When the pair returned to the vehicle on foot, they “were sweating” and had at least $800 or $900 in cash, Wright said.
Green also had blood on his hands, and no longer had the knife he left with, Wright said in the interview, also shown at Tuesday’s hearing.
“Did they say where the knife went,” asked Alcoa Detective Jeff Parsons.
“Nuh uh,” Wright said. “I just know it wasn’t there when they got back.”
When asked further about his knowledge of the robbery, Wright said he knew Hopewell and Green’s plan was “just get the money.”
“I don’t know exactly whose idea it was,” Wright said.
Prosecutors also showed two separate police interviews with Patrick. Each time, he denied knowledge of a robbery or homicide, stating he only figured out what happened right before Alcoa Police showed up in Harriman.
During the first interview, which occurred Aug. 1, Patrick said he was the one who drove the group away from the apartments after the stabbing. In the second interview, which occurred after his arrest, he said Hopewell drove the vehicle. When asked about the inconsistency, Patrick said, “I was just scared.”
“I’m in the middle of something I don’t need to be in the middle of,” Patrick said in the last interview.
Cause of Death
Knox County Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan was also called to testify, stating that Radford sustained six stab wounds. Two of those would have been life-threatening in their own right, she said.
The stab wounds were found on his right upper back, right upper chest, middle chest, lower neck, right chest wall and forearm. He also had several defense wounds, most of them on his right hand.
Mileusnic-Polchan said the multiple stab wounds were identified as the cause of death. The stab wound in his right upper chest region punctured his right lung.
“(It’s) potentially survivable if help is initiated immediately,” Mileusnic-Polchan said. “Depth of the wound was such it was kind of a 50/50 (percent) chance of survival with the proper medical response.”
The stab wound in the middle of his chest punctured the sternum before entering the right ventricle of his heart, she said.
“This is a lethal wound because it does involve the heart,” she said.
The pathologist performing the autopsy recovered nearly 1½ liters of blood from Radford’s right lung, she said.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Patrick’s attorney, D. Chris Poulopoulos, said prosecutors didn’t come close to establishing probable cause Patrick had anything to do with the slaying, or any knowledge thereof.
“It’s astounding to me, your honor, the lack of evidence the state has against my client,” Poulopoulos said. “They’ve not put on anything that would even come close to probably cause against my client.”
Blount County Assistant District Attorney General Clinton Frazier said the case against Patrick was more circumstantial than the others, but Patrick’s inconsistent statements showed he knew more than he told law enforcement.
“What I think is clear is the inconsistency here,” Frazier said.
In the end, Brewer agreed with Poulopoulos, stating prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof. He dismissed the criminal homicide case against Patrick.
Brewer said there was enough probable cause, however, to send the pending criminal homicide charges against Wright, Green and Hopewell to a grand jury.
Radford was an early graduate of William Blount High School, graduating last December. He also played varsity football there. Family members said he would have started attending Pellissippi State Community College this fall.
Radford’s mother, Robyn Radford, told The Daily Times Caleb planned to complete a two-year program at Pellissippi and transfer to another school. He was considering studying business, she said.
Caleb Radford left behind a young son, Kylon, who will be a year old in early October, and his fiancee and Kylon’s mother, Zion Long.
Patrick played football at both Clinton High School and Lenoir City High School. The standout wide receiver transferred to Knox West for his senior year of high school in 2012, but didn’t play due to eligibility issues. At one point, he was committed to sign with the University of Tennessee.
Patrick and Wright both attended East Mississippi Community College, where the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U” was filmed. Wright, who played running back, was featured on the show.
Wright transferred to the University of West Georgia in February, but left the school after completing spring practice, according to 247sports.com.
Patrick signed with Indiana University in 2015. The fifth-year senior was granted a medical hardship waiver earlier this year, effectively ending his college football career.
A spokesman for Indiana University confirmed via email Sept. 14 that Patrick was “summarily suspended” from the school following his arrest in Radford’s slaying.