Brantley murder trial to begin Monday


Posted 2/4/18

A jury will be selected Monday to hear a decade old murder case without a body in evidence.

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Brantley murder trial to begin Monday


A jury is expected to be selected Monday to hear a decade-old murder case without a body in evidence.

The case of Donnie Ray Brantley will begin in Bradley County Criminal Court, presided over by Criminal Court Judge Andrew Freiberg, and watched by local and national media.

Brantley was arrested in 2013 for the alleged murder of his wife, who had been missing since May 31, 2009. He had been out on bond for the charge of first-degree murder until indicted in 2016. Brantley had been arrested in connection with his wife's disappearance five years ago, but according to court records, those charges were nolled (dropped with the potential to be represented) because an important witness was unable to testify.

The body of the then 52-year-old woman, a former employee at Lee College (now Lee University), has never been found.

Brantley was apprehended in Cartersville, Ga., following the Bradley County grand jury indictment, and made an appearance in Bradley County Criminal Court, where he said he and his family were seeking private counsel for him. However, he was later declared unable to hire an attorney, and was assigned to the Public Defender's office.

He then retained a private attorney with the Chattanooga law firm of Davis and Hoss. Former Hamilton County District Attorney General Lee Davis represented Brantley in court during his June 2017 bond hearing, where he was freed on a $250,000 bond pending the trial.

The case is what many had considered a "cold case" as it had not been taken to court. Although law enforcement officers had arrested Brantley in 2013, they were unsure if the evidence they could present would lead to a conviction.

The case helped in plans for creation of a Cold Case Task Force for the 10th Judicial District (Bradley, Polk, McMinn and Monroe counties).

Because of the unusual nature of the case, it has drawn attention from national media crime shows. The CBS News program, “48 Hours,” has already interviewed investigators from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and will be in the courtroom filming for a future episode.


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