Wednesday, May 30, 2001

Butler grand jury gets murder case

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIDDLETOWN — A robbery that escalated into homicide began, according to court testimony Tuesday, when Marion Gilbert Emmett, 38, was robbed of an automatic-teller-machine card and a $1 bill.

        His assailants discovered the personal identification number he provided didn't activate the card, so they beat him to death. Then they showed up at a Middletown woman's home and laughingly admitted what they had done, she testified.

        After hearing the testimony of police officers and the woman, Middletown Municipal Judge Mark W. Wall found sufficient evidence to send the case against Derrick Bird and Brad Isbell, both of Middletown, to a Butler County grand jury.

        The pair of 20-year-olds are charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery in Mr. Emmett's death; each man's bond remains at $1 million.

        A supervisor for a city inmate cleanup crew spotted Mr. Emmett's partially clothed body May 18 toward the rear of the Middletown Historical Pioneer Cemetery on First Avenue. By May 21, the two suspects were in custody.

        Detective Tim Riggs said swizzle sticks, used to stir mixed drinks, were found near Mr. Emmett's body, sending investigators to area taverns for information. They found what they were seeking at Barb's Pub on Charles Street. A patron, Cheryl Shake, had seen Mr. Emmett meet with his alleged assailants. When she arrived later at her Forest Avenue apartment, Mr. Isbell and Mr. Bird were in her back yard, sitting in her lawn chairs. Then they told her, “We think we just killed some guy over at the graveyard,” she said.

        Mr. Emmett had suffered 10 broken ribs, which damaged his liver. He died of blunt force abdominal trauma, Butler County Coroner Richard P. Burkhardt has said.

        Mr. Emmett's silver-haired parents sat listening to the testimony with pained expressions on their faces. They declined to talk to reporters after the hearing.


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