Jennifer Ross Murder Suspects Face Preliminary Hearing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/20/06

Jennifer Ross Murder Suspects Face Preliminary Hearing

Today in open court, Savannah-Chatham police released the details about who they say killed Jennifer Ross and we learned what evidence they have in this case.

Police say Michael Thorpe and Kevin Huckabee tried to rob Ross and her friends early Christmas Eve morning in Orleans Square in downtown Savannah. They say the pair shot her in the back during the robbery.

In late January, police charged Thorpe and Huckabee with Ross' murder. They say Thorpe pulled the trigger and Huckabee drove the getaway car.

Both men were in court today for their preliminary hearing. A judge listened to the basic evidence police have against them. This is not a clear-cut case. It's built mostly on hearsay and the word of one of men there when Ross was shot.

Investigators say Thorpe and Huckabee are in jail for two reasons: they couldn't keep their mouths shut and an accomplice ratted them out.

"I wouldn't call him an informant, I would classify him as a person involved in the crime who decided to come forward and do the right thing," said Capt. Bob Merriman with SCMPD.

Police say they also have several witnesses who overheard Thorpe and Huckabee admit they killed Ross. Capt. Merriman told us, "Michael Thorpe was boasting about how he shot the girl, because she bucked."

In other words, Ross fought back.

Police didn't present any physical evidence at the hearing. They are still trying to find the murder weapon. They searched for the gun in a Battery Point pond and twice in the marsh under the Sam Varnedoe Bridge.

Crime scene investigators are still examining other evidence.

"The case is ongoing," said Capt. Merriman. "A lot of evidence is at the crime lab and a lot of evidence has been seized. And there's more people to interview."

And possibly one more person to arrest. Police say the have a third suspect they hope to arrest soon. His name is Webster Wilson. They are still gathering evidence against him.

Police are giving a lot of weight to Huckabee's and Thorpe's accomplice. Detectives are willing to believe him because they have other information that backs up what he's saying and he's not getting anything in return.

The judge did send this case to Superior Court. A grand jury will hear the case in the coming weeks.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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