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Cell phone pinpoints primary suspect in 2018 murder of Columbus rapper

Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 8:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Law enforcement officers testified Monday in the trial surrounding the 2018 murder of a Columbus rapper. The jury was also shown an interview with the victim’s father, who has since passed away.

Day six for the trial surrounding the murder of up and coming Columbus rapper Branden Denson began with testimony from homicide Detective Stuart Carter. Carter says he took crime scene photos of the place Eric Spencer claims he met the other suspects prior to the murder.

You may remember Spencer is the only suspect who took a plea deal. He also claims he only knew the other suspects had plans to scam the victim using counterfeit money to buy marijuana.

“He even described how the money was rolled, in terms of 100′s being on the top -- fake money being in the middle. He even gave you a description of how the counterfeit money was rolled,” said Defense Attorney Michael Eddings, to which Detective Carter responds, “Correct.”

Another crucial witness to testify was the lead detective -- Detective Robert Nicholas. Nicholas says he found two cell phones inside the victim’s car. Using those phones, he determined Denson was killed between 9:45 and 10 p.m.

“One of them was actually unlocked so that we could see a call log -- text message logs and it showed that he had been active on his phone as early as 9:44,” said Detective Nicholas.

Nicholas says he also noticed something alarming about the victim’s cell phone.

“What I noticed on the phone was that he had been in contact with a particular number numerous times,” said Detective Nicholas.

Investigators determined that person in contact with the victim prior to the murder was Tommie Mullins, the alleged mastermind. However, Nicholas says they were unable to speak with Mullins days after the murder.

Another person who’s testimony was allowed in court today was the victim’s father, Billy, -- who passed away after his son was killed. Prior to the start of the trial, the defense had requested the statement from the victim’s father be excluded from the trial.

Defense Attorney Michael Eddings said the statement shouldn’t have been admissible because Billy got the information from his son and neither are alive to be cross-examined.

In an interview with police, Billy said his son was over his house the night he was killed. Billy said his son told him he was going to Pizza Hut to meet “KOK,” a nickname investigators say is for Tommie Mullins, the alleged mastermind.

Billy also told police he thought the victim’s girlfriend may have been involved. Billy said Branden’s relationship had been rocky and he believed Branden was ready to leave the relationship.

“I think she knew her bread and butter wasn’t going to be there anymore,” said Billy Denson.

The surveillance footage from the murder scene was shown in court today but it was very blurry and it was hard to tell who was in it. Detective Nicholas says he tried to have it brightened but that didn’t make a difference. The judge did now allow the edited version to be shown to the jury considering they had already seen the original copy.

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