Wal-Mart assault case sent to grand jury

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Two Lewisburg women who allegedly assaulted a teenager at Wal-Mart last month have had their cases bound over to the Marshall County Grand Jury. It was set to meet today.

Tabitha Brown, 33, had a preliminary hearing in Lewisburg City Court Monday afternoon, watched by her sister, Symetra, 35, who has been released on bond.

Symetra waived her right to a preliminary hearing, according to Lewisburg Police Detective Scott Braden. Her case had already been bound over.

After hearing evidence Monday afternoon, Judge Roger Brandon decided that Tabitha's case should also be presented to the grand jury.

With city attorney Steve Broadway prosecuting, the court heard testimony from the victim, 16-year-old Hailey Hendricks of Nash-ville, and two of the three teenagers who accompanied her to Wal-Mart on the afternoon of June 19. They were unanimous in describing how the Brown sisters hit Hendricks multiple times as she lay on the floor in the hair-dye aisle, stunned from hitting her head as she fell.

"They were both on top of her, hitting her," testified Michael Beard Jr., 15.

He and the other witness, Sarah Hendricks, agreed that the three friends tried to break up the fight and push Symetra off Hailey, and Sarah said she was screaming, "She's only 16."

In the audience, Symetra Brown shook her head, and whispered, "No, no," at various times during testimony.

The only defense witness, presented by Tabitha's attorney Rob Dalton, contradicted the testimony given by Hailey's friends.

Summer Wilkerson of Lewisburg stated, "No one tried to break up the fight," but she agreed there was a great deal of commotion.

"I did not see her (Symetra) get into the fight," Wilkerson said, adding that Symetra warned Tabitha the police were coming, and the pair left the store, along with Symetra's two young children.

Lewisburg Police Officer John Christmas testified he arrived after the Browns had left, but traced their home address by the tag number of their car, provided by a Wal-Mart employee.

Wilkerson testified she heard Symetra predict before the struggle started, "I'm going to have to go to jail today, and my kids are going to have to watch," and this prophecy came true a short time later when Christmas arrested both sisters at their Woodlawn Avenue address.

Christmas showed the court photographs of Hailey he took while she was in the Emergency Room at Marshall Medical Center, before being transferred to Vanderbilt.

Now, a month after the beating, Hailey's face appears healed, though she said it was still painful.

Externally, there's no sign that her left eye socket has been rebuilt with a titanium plate, as described by her mother shortly after the alleged assault.