2010-04-21 / Front Page

Second trial begins in Cates murder

By Anne Marie Kyzer

A jury trial began Monday for the second person accused in the murder of a Burke County High School student.

Christopher Chance, 23, is charged with malice murder, felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and criminal attempt to possess cocaine.

Chance and his cousin Raymond Trey Sapp, 19, were arrested in November 2008 after 16-year-old Simpson “Tyrone” Cates Jr. was found shot to death on a dirt road outside Sardis.

Investigators believe Cates was killed while delivering $150 worth of crack cocaine for his cousin, a known drug dealer in Sardis.

Chance turned himself in the night of the murder and implicated himself and Sapp.

Chance named Sapp as the gunman but when Sapp came in for questioning, he blamed Chance for pulling the trigger.

Both have maintained their stories that they were innocent bystanders while the other robbed Cates of the cocaine.

Prosecuters argue that both were involved in the robbery and killing, regardless of who actually fired the shots.

Sapp stood trial two weeks ago and was found guilty of felony murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and criminal attempt to possess cocaine. He was sentenced to life in prison, which is mandatory for murder, plus five years for the firearms and cocaine convictions.

During jury selection for Chance’s trial Monday, at least a half-dozen potential jurors were dismissed from the jury pool because they said they had read or heard too much about the case to make an unbiased decision. Several others were dismissed because they were friends with the Cates family.

Chance’s trial is expected to last through the end of the week.

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