On October 9, 1992, 20-year-old Ontrain “Terry” Sanders drove into a parking lot in Memphis, Tennessee and was confronted by a group of young men, some of whom were in the process of trying to rob two other youths.
Witnesses later said that when Sanders attempted to flee, two youths—17-year-old Darryl Bailey and 19-year-old Andre Bland—chased him. Witnesses said they heard shots and Bailey and Bland then came back.
Sanders was found underneath a truck where he crawled after being shot three times in the upper thigh. He died from loss of blood because his femoral artery was blasted open.
A few days later, police interviewed Bailey and he said he was standing near the parking lot when he heard two men discuss robbing a car in the parking lot. He said that as he watched, the two men broke the window on the car. One of the men in the car, Ernest Norman, fled on foot. The other man, Marcel Nugent, was dragged from the car and shot and robbed before he managed to escape.
At about the same time, Bailey said, Sanders drove into the lot and when he got out of his car, Bland chased him around the corner. Bailey said he heard shots and Bland returned. Bailey was released after giving the statement.
A week later, Bailey was brought in for another interview where he gave a different story. Bailey told police that Bland only shot Sanders once and wounded him. Bailey said he chased after Sanders and shot him four times in the leg. He said he was only intending to wound Sanders, not kill him.
Bland and Bailey were arrested in November 1992 and charged with first-degree murder in the course of a robbery.
In February 1994, Bland went to trial in Shelby County Circuit Court and was convicted of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to death.
In September 1994, Bailey went to trial. Terry Pollard, a youth who lived in an apartment adjacent to the parking lot, said that Bland, Bailey and other youths were in his apartment when two of them decided to rob Nugent and Norman in their car. Pollard said that Bailey pulled Nugent out of the car after Norman ran off. Pollard said someone shot Nugent in the leg and robbed him of $80 and Nugent then managed to flee. During this robbery, Sanders drove into the lot and as he exited his car, Bland shot him, Pollard said.
Pollard testified that Bland and Bailey both had pistols in their hands. He said Bland and Bailey followed Sanders around the building and out of his sight. He said he heard gunshots. When Bailey came back to the parking lot, he was carrying a cocked revolver in one hand and had blood on the other, Pollard said.
Bailey testified on his own behalf and said that Bland shot Sanders in the parking lot and then chased him around a building and shot him five or six more times. He said he tried to stop Bland from chasing Sanders. He denied shooting Sanders or being involved in any way.
Bailey said that after the shooting, Bland called him and said he was going to talk to police and that he wanted Bailey “to take the charge for him” because Bailey was a juvenile at the time and would face a less serious punishment. Bailey told the jury that his first statement—in which he said Bland was the only one who shot Sanders—was the truth.
Moreover, Bailey told the jury that Pollard called him after he gave his first statement and said he would be killed if he did not “take the murder charge.” Bailey said Bland also threatened to kill him and that Bland and Pollard told him what to say in his second statement.
Bailey’s attorney made a motion to admit a statement Bland gave to police. In that statement, Bland said that he shot Sanders four or five times and that he was the only person who shot Sanders. The motion was denied.
On September 23, 1994, Bailey was convicted of murder committed during the course of a robbery. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In December 1998, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Bailey’s conviction. The appeals court ruled that the trial judge had erroneously excluded Bland’s statement to police.
“The only evidence in this case about who actually shot Ontrain Sanders when he was hiding under (the truck) came from (Bailey’s) testimony and his pre-trial statements to police,” the court said. “Indeed, it appears that Bland was the only other person who could have testified about what really happened.”
The court said that if admitted into evidence, Bland’s statement would have corroborated Bailey’s claim that Bland was the only one who shot Sanders and that Bailey only confessed to the crime because he had been threatened.
In July 2000, Bailey went on trial a second time after rejecting an offer to plead guilty to second-degree murder and receive a sentence of 20 years. He again testified and denied shooting Sanders and said he confessed out of fear of being killed by Bland. The jury acquitted Bailey on July 20, 2000 and Bailey was released.
– Maurice Possley