Adam Braseel, was convicted in November 2007 for the murder of Malcolm Burrows and the assault of Rebecca Hill, in Tracy City, Tennessee, in 2006. Adam was sentenced to life in prison for the crimes. Adam’s conviction was based solely on faulty witness testimony. There is not one shred of evidence that ties Adam to the crimes. Now, in the years following his conviction, new information has come to light which further supports Adam’s innocence.
Adam Braseel received good news in January 2016, when Circuit Court Judge Justin C. Angel granted Adam’s request for relief by voiding his convictions and ordering a new trial. Adam was released from prison on bond shortly after Judge Angel’s ruling. The prosecution appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Tennessee Court of Appeals. As a result, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to grant relief. After ten months of freedom, Adam was returned to prison to continue serving his life sentence. Adam filed an application to appeal the appellate court decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court on October 11, 2016. Unfortunately, his request for a hearing was denied by the high court in February of 2017.
Adam’s next step is to file a federal habeas petition. There is a deadline to file this petition, so the clock is currently ticking. Adam is in need of funds to pay for an attorney to file his petition. Adam’s family is hopeful that an attorney will come forward to offer their services pro-bono. In the meantime, they continue to work to raise money to hire an attorney on their fundedjustice page.
On January 7, 2006, Grundy County deputies responded to a 911 call made by Kirk Braden from a home on Melissa Rock Road in the small town of Tracy City. Braden called to report that his mother, Rebecca Hill, had been assaulted in the home. Upon arrival, deputies found that Hill had been beaten and had suffered severe head wounds.
Former Grundy County Deputy Mike Brown, described what took place at the scene, in an interview with DK Sale in 2016. According to Brown, Hill told him that a man had come by the house saying that his car had broken down. Hill’s brother, Malcolm Burrows, who was the owner of the residence, went outside with the man to help with the car. Hill told Brown that the man returned to the home without Burrows and assaulted her. According to Hill, her screams awoke her son who had been sleeping in another room. Hill told the deputy that her son had scared off the assailant.
According to Brown, evidence was collected at the home, and Hill was taken to a hospital by ambulance. Brown was the last officer to leave the scene, and only then did it dawn on him that Burrows was missing. All other investigators left the scene without giving any thought to fact that Burrows never returned home. As Brown left the residence, he spotted a car parked on the side of the road, and followed a trail from the car into the woods to find the body of Burrows lying face down on the ground. An investigation would determine that Burrows had been beaten to death with a blunt object.
On the same day that Burrows’s body was discovered, Adam Braseel had gone to see some friends for a planned weekend of four-wheeling in the mountains in Grundy County. Adam has multiple alibis who have all confirmed his whereabouts for that entire weekend, including the times that the crimes in Tracy City allegedly took place.
According to the Grundy Country Sheriff’s department, they set their sights on Adam Braseel based on anonymous information they had received. This information remains a mystery to this day. A neighbor of Burrows also told police that she had seen a gold colored car at Burrows’s home early in the day. Adam was driving his mother’s gold colored car that weekend when he went to meet up with friends.
The murder occurred in a small town so word traveled fast that police were looking for Adam. Upon hearing the news, Adam voluntarily turned himself in and cooperated fully with police. He turned in his mother’s car and his clothing. Investigators did not find a single trace of blood in Adam’s car or on his clothing. There is absolutely no physical evidence whatsoever which incriminates Adam Braseel.
Adam Braseel’s conviction was based solely on the questionable eyewitness testimony of Rebecca Hill and Kirk Braden. Braden identified Adam in a single photo lineup. Single photo lineups have consistently been held to be unconstitutional by our appellate courts because they are completely unreliable. Rebecca Hill failed to identify Adam in a photo lineup immediately after the crimes took place. At trial, Hill actually identified someone other than Adam Braseel when she was presented a photo lineup. At some point, between the time the crimes took place and the trial, only after talking with prosecutors, was Hill ever able to identify Adam in a photo lineup. That identification was considered legitimate, despite the fact that she was unable to identify Adam on two separate occasions, including while under oath at Adam’s trial.
In addition to the fact that there is absolutely no physical evidence linking Adam to the crimes, the prosecution’s theory no longer holds water. Prosecutors argued that Adam’s motive for murder was the theft of Burrows’s wallet which allegedly contained eight hundred dollars. The prosecution claimed that Burrows’s wallet was not on him when his body was collected. That information is now disputed by statements made by former Grundy County Deputy Mike Brown in a 2016 interview with investigator DK Sale. Brown was the first person to discover the body of Malcolm Burrows. According to Brown, he saw a “big fat wallet” in the pocket of Burrows’s back jeans pocket. If that wallet was in Burrows’s pocket, then whoever murdered Burrows certainly did not take it when he or she fled the scene. Therefore, the motive was most certainly not theft.
Sadly, we now know based on the investigations of both DK Sale and William Bevil, that Adam’s wrongful conviction was caused by egregious negligence and disturbing corruption, which turned two would-be suspects into “victims” and landed an innocent man in prison for a crime he did not commit. Evidence has been uncovered which has exposed tampered evidence, forged documents, and a drug running ring that may have been the catalyst for it all.
There are many unanswered questions about the murder of Malcolm Burrows. But one thing is clear, Adam Braseel had nothing at all to do with it.