LaGrange police trying to crack cold case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2016

Officers seek more evidence in murder

By Melanie Ruberti

LaGRANGE — On a calm, brisk, early spring morning nine years ago, the sound of gunshots shattered the tranquil sky over the neighborhood at the intersection of Banks and Easy Street.

Denorrius Spearman, 24, lie dead in the middle of the road with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

LaGrange Police Sgt. Robert Kirby remembered when the call about Spearman’s murder came out over the radio.

It was April 17, 2007, just after 1 a.m. Kirby was a detective at the time, but assisted the patrol division that night along New Franklin Road.

Kirby said he quickly headed to the location where he spotted Spearman’s body and a cab driver who was the first one to discover the gruesome scene.

“He said he had dropped someone off in the area, was driving back to the main road and saw someone lying in the roadway,” Kirby remembered. “I tried to rouse the person (Spearman) and he was unresponsive … we (detectives) knew immediately he had been shot in the head, we could see the wound. We called for AMR (paramedics).”

Kirby said investigators confirmed with the cab company the driver had been dispatched to the area at the time to drop off a ride. Then they got to work gathering as much information and evidence as they could about the murder.

Kirby said their first task was to identify their victim.

“He didn’t have any ID on him, we weren’t sure who he was at first. So we knocked on doors,” Kirby stated. “We kept expanding our search into the neighborhood until we found someone who had been with him shortly before the incident, and that person identified him.”

According to Kirby, the person who identified Spearman was considered a friend and was eliminated as a suspect fairly quickly in the investigation.

Detectives also searched for eyewitnesses.

“We spoke to people who heard the shots, but no one ever saw what actually occurred,” said Kirby.

He added there was no indication Spearman had been robbed. In fact, the 24 year old was found still holding a key in his hand.

Kirby said detectives later learned the key belonged to a dirt bike, which lead them to discover who Spearman was potentially making contact with in the weeks and days leading up to his death. Eventually, a “person of interest” caught their eye, Kirby stated.

“He told us some things that happened and named two other people who were involved in it (the crime),” Kirby explained.

While Kirby did not disclose who the “person of interest” was, he did say the information they provided lead to the arrest of three men.

The men were taken into custody in August 2007 and later indicted for the murder of Spearman.

All three suspects remained in jail for about a year, but were never prosecuted due to lack of evidence.

Kirby is certain there are people still living in the community who know what happened to Spearman in the early morning hours of April 17, 2007. He just needs them to come forward with a crucial piece of the puzzle that will eventually solve the crime.

“It’s frustrating. I would say there’s more information than people can give us because they don’t want to be considered ‘snitches’ or be implicated in the crime,” Kirby said. “But we count on the community and people to give us information. They are our ‘eyes and ears’ and we count on them. If they don’t give us information, then we end up with cases that we can’t solve sometimes.”

LaGrange Sgt. William Nelson agreed.

“There’s still people out there with information on Spearman’s death,” he stated. “Whomever did this, did this for a reason. What that reason is … well, we have thoughts on that.”

Nelson is now working with Kirby on the case. He is looking over every detail about the murder with a fresh pair of eyes. That includes the evidence found at the scene, interviews conducted during the investigation and more.

Nelson has also reached out to Spearman’s mom. He said she too remains hopeful new attention to the case will bring forth justice for her son.

“She said she hadn’t really heard anything since the case went quiet,” Nelson said. “She thought someone out there knew something as well and wants someone to come forward.”

Anyone with information about the murder of Denorrius Spearman is asked to contact LaGrange Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Section at 706-883-2603. People can also call in tips to Troup County Crime Stoppers at 706-812-1000. Folks can remain anonymous and may receive a cash reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.