The legal defense for accused killer James Tyler Garrett appears to be that he acted in self-defense.
A preliminary hearing was held Tuesday morning for Garrett, 30, who is charged with criminal homicide for the shooting death of his friend, Javier Wiley, 30, in the early morning hours on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Police say Garrett killed Wiley with an AR-15 on Fair Street, a residential road between Spring Street and Red Road. The two had reportedly been arguing and even engaged in a fistfight during what was supposed to be an enjoyable Friday night trip to Murfreesboro that spilled into the early morning hours on Saturday.
After hearing testimony from two officers, Judge Bill Locke ruled there is enough probable cause to send the case to the grand jury.
Defense attorney Scott Grissom asked the officers about the altercations, both physical and verbal, between Garrett and Wiley that night. A fistfight reportedly erupted on the side of the road as they were returning to McMinnville and Garrett did not want Wiley to continue riding with him after that physical altercation.
“He asked Mr. Wiley to leave and not get back in his vehicle, but he did get back in the vehicle,” testified McMinnville officer Maggie Fann.
When they arrived at the Garrett home on Fair Street, Garrett reportedly asked Wiley to leave once again.
“Mr. Wiley would not leave,” Fann testified. “He asked him to leave and Mr. Wiley refused. He then went into the house to retrieve the AR-15.”
Police Lt. Paul Springer said he was the first to arrive on the scene. Grissom asked him several questions about where Wiley’s body was lying in the yard in relation to the front door of the Garrett home.
“He was on the ground near the concrete pad,” testified Springer. “He was lying at about a 45-degree angle from the porch with his feet almost touching the concrete. He was probably 3-4 feet from the front door.”
Lt. Springer described Garrett as being “passive” when he arrived on the scene. Officer Fann described him as being “calm.” Both officers testified Garrett admitted to being the shooter.
“When I arrived on the scene, the first thing I asked was, ‘Does anyone know where the shooter is?’” testified Lt. Springer. “He raised his hand and indicated it was him.”
Fann said she asked Garrett general questions after reading him his Miranda rights. She testified that Garrett told her that he retrieved the AR-15 and shot Wiley.
The gun was found inside the home by Lt. Springer. Garrett was reportedly sitting on the curb not far from mailboxes when officers arrived. His hands were behind his back, as if he was already in handcuff position, both officers testified.
Fann tesified Garrett appeared intoxicated. Springer said he understands a blood test was done but he didn't observe that process.
The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine if there is probable cause to send the case to the grand jury. Prosecutor Randall Gilliam was representing the District Attorney’s Office.