On August 8, 2007, 23-year-old Christopher Long was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly holding a gun to the head of his ex-girlfriend to force her to drop demands for child support for their son.
The relationship between Long and his former girlfriend, Tamela Baskerville, had deteriorated for months by early 2007 as they engaged in a battle for custody of their son, Chauncey.
Long initially had denied paternal responsibility and had refused to make court-mandated monthly child support payments. But after a paternity test established that Long was the boy’s father, Long was awarded joint custody on May 9, 2007, and his child support arrearage was erased.
In an attempt to get the joint custody agreement set aside and to get her claim for arrearages reinstated, Baskerville claimed Long kidnapped the boy. Following this allegation, the judge denied Baskerville’s motion to terminate Long’s parenting rights, but granted her motion to reinstate the arrearages.
An angry Long came to Baskerville’s home on May 15, 2007. The events of that day led to Long being charged with felony use of a firearm, felon in possession of a firearm, felonious assault, and domestic violence.
While Long was awaiting trial Baskerville became enmeshed in a similar custody battle with Frederick Brown Sr., who fathered a child with Baskerville named Frederick “Scooter” Brown Jr. In the late summer of 2007, the senior Brown filed for temporary custody of “Scooter” after the boy complained of abuse by his mother and reported other incidents of violence with his half-brother.
Baskerville responded by alleging falsely that Brown had kidnapped the boy and then, accompanied by a friend named Jermaine Little, had broken into her home.
Long went on trial in January 2008. Baskerville testified that Long came to her home twice that day. During the first visit, around 8 a.m., Baskerville testified Long choked her and threatened her life with a gun while demanding that she waive past due child support.
Baskerville also testified that Long came back around 8 p.m. to return Chauncey’s car seat. Baskerville claimed that while she was taking out the garbage, Long confronted her with a handgun yelling: “It ain’t over, you’re dead, drop the child support.”
All six of Baskerville’s children (each by a different father) were home at the time, and at least two of her sons said they witnessed the event. The second eldest, Keiyon, testified at trial that he saw Long holding a black gun to his mother’s face. At the urging of Baskerville, Keiyon called 911 for help as Long drove off.
Long testified in his own defense and said he was there only once and that while they argued loudly, there were no threats.
On January 17, 2008, Long was convicted in Wayne County Circuit Court by a judge hearing the case without a jury and sentenced to 3 ½ to seven years in prison.
The senior Brown was acquitted of the burglary and his friend, Jermaine Little, was awaiting trial before the same judge who presided over Long’s case. Little and Long wrote letters to the judge noting the similarities of their cases. The judge sent the letters to Kim McGinnis, the Michigan appellate defender handling Long’s appeal.
At about the same time, Frederick “Scooter” Brown, Jr. who had been sentenced to serve time in a juvenile detention center, revealed to his counselor during mandatory therapy session that he witnessed the alleged crime for which Long was convicted. He said Long did not have a gun that day.
Scooter Brown had not been interviewed by police. According to Brown, Long arrived at the home around 1 p.m. and approached Baskerville who stood outside on the phone. Brown said he rushed upstairs to watch the encounter from the window with his brothers, Keiyon and Kyle. Words were exchanged, but nothing more happened, he said.
After Long departed, Baskerville came inside cursing. Brown said she tried to persuade him call police and say that Long placed a gun in her mouth. Brown said he refused.
At a hearing on a motion for a new trial, McGinnis presented the evidence of Baskerville’s allegations against the senior Brown, as well as the testimony of Brown’s son, Scooter. She also presented an affidavit from a colleague of Baskerville’s, Victoria McWilliams, who stated that Baskerville admitted to falsifying her account of the argument with Long.
Long's conviction was overturned, and a new trial was awarded.
While Long was considering an offer from the state to plead guilty to a lesser offense, Baskerville visited the younger Brown at the juvenile detention facility. She was overheard attempting to persuade him to change his testimony before the new trial so that it would comport with her version of the events.
The prosecution then dismissed the charges. On June 30, 2008, Long was released.
– Maurice Possley