WTOC Investigates: City Market suspect’s previous charges

WTOC Investigates: City Markets suspect's criminal history
Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 9:38 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 6, 2017 at 5:47 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - WTOC is learning more details about the teen suspect involved in downtown Savannah's shooting and crash.

Jerry Chambers, Jr., 17, is facing three counts of felony murder charges. He remains behind bars at the Chatham County Jail after he was denied bond on Thursday.

Investigators say this is the same guy who was involved in the armed robbery and shooting at the Savannah Mall last summer. In June of 2016, investigators say a 63-year-old woman was in the mall parking lot when she was attacked and robbed. When she tried to fight back, she was shot and seriously injured.

The suspect, Jerry Chambers, Jr. turned himself in two days later and was charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Chambers was originally going to be tried in Superior Court but it was later moved to Juvenile Court when the armed robbery charges were reduced to attempted armed robbery.

All juvenile court documents are sealed but we were able to access some of the initial court records that were filed before the case was moved, possibly offering some insight into the "not guilty" verdict.

We reported June 10, 2016, what police told us. The woman was in her car when at least two men attacked her, beat her and when she tried to fight back, they shot her.

Two days later, Jerry Chambers, Jr. turned himself in after police alerted the public they were looking for him.

Chambers, who was 16 at the time, was originally facing charges in Superior Court but it was moved to Juvenile Court when the charges were changed to attempted robbery.

According to his attorney, the bench trial took two days before Judge Cole ruled Chambers was not guilty.

Juvenile court records are not public but since the case was originally filed in a Superior Court case, WTOC was able to gain some insight through some of the documents filed before the case was moved. Court records indicate the armed robbery charge was reduced to attempted robbery because there was no evidence that money was actually taken.

According to Chambers' attorney who was representing him in this case, Chambers was the only suspect ever charged. And according to the court record, the victim said she was able to slam her trunk down on the finger of one of her attackers. But records indicate Chambers did not have a corresponding injury.

In court documents, Chambers' attorney argued that at best, he could be charged as a party to the crime.

At one point, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police even acknowledged there were multiple suspects in their original press release that day saying the suspects - indicating more than one - that fled the scene.

We asked investigators Wednesday why Chambers was back on the street just one year later, armed and dangerous.

"We have to obtain evidence beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction whether they're a child, juvenile, adult, etc. We realize that's a burden. There's always a challenge to get that information and it's always going to be a challenge. We've got to be able to convict individuals where they cannot have a second chance of creating violence," Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Jack Lumpkin said.

"We went to juvenile court with the case. It was a good solid case. The powers at be there did not feel that he was guilty so he was released," said SCMPD Criminal Investigations Division Maj. Rick Zapal.

Chief Lumpkin identified the teen facing charges, Chambers, as a member of the gang "Only the Mob" at Wednesday's press conference.

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