Preliminary hearings have been set for a Jackson man and his girlfriend who are facing charges in connection with a June 17 shooting which left a one-year-old child in critical condition. Police have said the couple gave false statements that the man’s older brother committed the crime.
Justin O’Neal Byrd, 22, who has been in continuous custody on unrelated parole violation charges, was arraigned Monday in Jackson City Court on charges of attempted first degree murder and filing a false police report.
During his arraignment via video feed, Judge Blake Anderson asked Justin Byrd why he was on parole and Justin Byrd answered it was for a burglary charge. He also told Anderson that he has always lived in Jackson and that he does not work.
Anderson set Justin Byrd’s bond at $250,000 and his preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 3.
Justin Byrd’s girlfriend, Jamila Kinnie, who made bond after being taken into custody for filing a false police report, was also arraigned in city court Monday. She appeared before Blake in person and her preliminary hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m. July 3.
Before the couple was arraigned, the prosecutor asked that charges against Justin Byrd’s older brother, Antonio “Tony” Demont Byrd, 24, be dismissed.
Jackson police said on June 17, around 10:30 p.m., a shot, which was fired during a dispute at the Villages Apartments, located at 550 Old Hickory Blvd., Building 16, that struck a one-year-old.
On June 19, Tony Byrd was charged with attempted second degree murder, felony reckless endangerment and tampering with evidence. The charges were largely based on statements and identifications of two principal parties: Justin Byrd and Kinnie. Both identified Tony as the shooter.
Tony Byrd, who appeared via video feed Monday, was watching as Anderson agreed to dismiss the charges against him.
After Tony Byrd stood up from the blue chair he had been sitting in, passed his younger brother, neither looking at the other, as Justin Byrd sat in the seat to be arraigned.
Investigators continued to work throughout the week on the case and an associated burglary case, police said. At the time the shooting occurred, several people had been in a verbal confrontation with Kinnie and Justin Byrd. Justin Byrd stayed with Kinnie in Building 16 and was suspected by their neighbors of breaking into their apartment and stealing a television earlier in the day. It was during that confrontation that the shot was fired, from a red Fiat in which Justin Byrd was a passenger, that struck the child.
Police said the suspects in the burglary have been identified and investigators determined that Justin Byrd did participate in the burglary. Meanwhile, information developed by investigators in interviews of eyewitnesses, who had previously been unavailable to police, cast doubt on Justin Byrd and Kinnie’s statements against and photo identification of Tony Byrd.
When Justin Byrd and Kinnie were questioned again by investigators, both recanted their statements and identifications of Tony Byrd, with Justin Byrd identifying another individual as the driver and shooter.
The investigators have been able to corroborate the witnesses who identified Justin Byrd as the shooter and explore Tony Byrd’s alibi. All findings have been reviewed with the District Attorney’s Office. police said.
According to an affidavit of complaint, one of those witnesses was the driver of the Fiat. The driver said Justin Byrd , who was sitting in the front passenger seat, reached across him and fired a shot from a pistol out the window towards a group of people in the complex.
Two other witnesses, who were standing near the infant at the time of the shooting, also identified Justin Byrd as the shooter.