Ector County, TX – 17 March 2016 – An Ector County district judge lowered the bond for Khalifah Ibn Muhammad, accused of gunning down Brandon Lee Russell while he was trying to repossess his vehicle, from $2 million to $1 million.
District Judge Stacy Trotter made the decision Thursday afternoon after hearing arguments in the 358th District Court from First Assistant Ector County District Attorney Justin Cunningham and defense attorney Jason Leach.
Leach argued the bond set when Muhammad was originally charged was higher than most murder cases in Ector County, which he said is usually $500,000.
Additionally, Leach said, if Muhammad were to bail out of the Ector County Detention Center, he would be required to wear an ankle monitor and have to find employment. Family for Muhammad, Leach said, includes a mother who lives in St. Louis, Mo.
However, Cunningham, citing article 17.15 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, said the bond was appropriate because of the safety of the community and the nature of the alleged crime and the circumstances under which it was committed.
“The defendant was charged with shooting Brandon Lee Russell eight to nine times,” Cunningham argued.
Muhammad, 29, is accused of shooting Russell, 24, around 10:45 p.m. Sept. 30 outside the Acacia Park Apartments, 4775 Oakwood Drive.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Muhammad called emergency services before the shooting to complain about someone trying to repossess his Chevrolet Malibu. Dispatchers reported hearing Muhammad say, “Why didn’t you let me get my stuff?” to another person before the line disconnected. At 10:48 p.m., about five minutes later, another caller reported hearing about a dozen gunshots, according to the affidavit.
Police arrived to find Russell sitting in a black Nissan Sentra suffering gunshot wounds, while 10 spent 9mm casings laid outside of the Sentra, according to the affidavit. Russell was transported, by ambulance, to Medical Center Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Russell, who worked for West Texas Auto Recovery, arrived to repossess the vehicle at the apartment complex with a 27-year-old co-worker identified as Jimmy Tilghman, according to the affidavit.
Tilghman reportedly told police Muhammad emerged from the vehicle and confronted him and Russell when they began to hook up the Malibu to a tow truck. Muhammad, Tilghman reportedly told police, said the men were repossessing his car illegally.
Tilghman also told police Muhammad got into the driver’s seat of the tow truck and that Tilghman ordered him out, brandishing a stun gun — an exchange reportedly audible on the call to emergency dispatchers, according to the affidavit.
Muhammad got out of the tow truck, and Tilghman drove it away hauling the Malibu, according to the affidavit. The report says Tilghman looked to see Muhammad reach behind his back before hearing several gunshots.
Police arrested Muhammad at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Flying J truck stop at 5900 E. Interstate 20, according to a probable cause affidavit, a detail Cunningham mentioned during the hearing.
Leach said when Muhammad was charged, it was done without incident. Muhammad was indicted on a first-degree murder charge Dec. 7.
Both Leach and Cunningham also told Trotter they were not ready for a trial and requested another pretrial hearing in about 60 days.
If convicted, Muhammad faces between five to 99 years, or life, in prison.
Source: Odessa America