Probable Cause Found to Continue Murder Case Against Jason Chen

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Another hearing was held today for the man charged with criminal homicide in the November death of Jasmine Pace.

Hamilton County Judge Larry Ables had to decide today whether or not there was enough probable cause in the case of Jason Chen to proceed forward towards a grand jury.

Chen is charged with criminal homicide in the November death of Pace.

Chen’s defense attorney, Joshua Wise, attempted to get a continuance for this probable cause hearing because he said they had not received 16 hours worth of footage from five Chattanooga Police Officers’ body cameras.

This motion was quashed by Judge Ables.

The only witness in today’s proceedings was Chattanooga Police Detective Zack Crawford, called by the prosecutor, Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp.

Crawford testified about what he found inside of the apartment on 110 Tremont Street that belonged to Chen.

District Attorney Wamp asked Crawford,  “How would you describe the amount of blood that Bluestar (a test designed to test for blood), revealed in Mr. Chen’s apartment?

Detective Crawford responded, “The approximation on how much Bluestar agent, would be at least a liter of fluid, and specifically the Bluestar agent in this case, I’ve never seen the Bluestar agent that I saw until this case.”

Multiple exhibits were analyzed by Crawford on the witness stand.

These included pictures of Chen’s apartment and the scene on Suck Creek Road where Pace’s body was found were shown.

Crawford testified the timeline of events to the best of his knowledge.

He said that Pace’s car indicated she arrived at Chen’s apartment very late on November 22nd.

He testified that neighbors heard screams around 2 to 3 a.m. the morning of the 23rd, which he says corresponds with the very last communication Pace gave her mother, Catrina, via a text highlighting her location on Tremont Street.

There were photo and videos presented of Chen’s whereabouts on November 23rd.

Crawford says that evidence shows that Chen visited the Signal Mountain Walmart once and Northshore Walgreen’s twice on the 23rd to buy cleaning supplies among other items.

Crawford even said that he hid some of the cleaning supply purchases under other random purchases such as two purchases of asparagus at Walmart.

Later that evening, he is seen dragging something on Tremont Street and then roughly four minutes he drives out of the apartment’s parking lot.

Crawford then says Chen’s phone records show he goes to Suck Creek shortly before 6:30 pm where Pace’s body was found a week later.

After that, Crawford says Chen went back to Walgreen’s.

Chenpic 000

Jason Chen

The defense in their cross-examination attempted to pry whether or not police or Catrina Pace walked into Chen’s apartment before a search warrant was granted.

Detective Crawford testified that a pair of officers had entered the apartment before the search warrant was issued after finding it unlocked, but did not retrieve any items.

However, Crawford did testify that Catrina Pace did retrieve a handful of Jasmine’s items including her personal I-D in the early morning hours of November 27-th, and was banging on neighbor’s door to ask questions about her daughter’s disappearance,

Jasmine’s items were later retrieved by police as part of 33 total items retrieved in the search.

The prosecution objected heavily to this line of questioning.

Judge Ables told the defense in response to their line of questioning about Catrina Pace, “But you understand that you are well down the path to hearsay, and the state has objected a couple of times, and I’ve let you go for a little while, but all these questions about Catrina Pace, and what Catrina Pace didn’t do, she I’m sure will be able to answer those herself.”

Detective Crawford also testified that he went back to the apartment in early January as renovations to Chen’s apartment was ongoing, and discovered that blood had seeped under the carpet.

The defense attempted to call Catrina Pace to the stand as a defense witness, but this was not allowed by Judge Ables after a lengthy conference in his chambers.

After this conference Judge Ables announced his decision that there was enough probable cause to move forward with this case.

Nick: With probable cause found, Chen will now face a grand jury, who will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed forward with an indictment of charges.

If they indict him, Chen will either have to enter a plea agreement or stand trial.

Chen’s bond conditions remain in effect, as he has not bailed out, as his bail was set at $5 million.

Judge Ables also mentioned that he received threats after the bond hearing from people upset that he gave a $5 million bond, but he explained that since this is not a capital murder case, he is legally required by the state of Tennessee to give a bond, and that bond is the largest bond ever given in Hamilton County to his knowledge.

He also mentioned that Mr. Chen’s parents had also received threats in the wake of the last hearing, and called for the legal process to play out.

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