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Local News

Man charged with first-degree murder in Saturday shooting death

August 2nd, 2011 10:12 pm by Staff Reports

Johnson City police arrested a city man Tuesday and charged him with one count each of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery.
Justin A. Stratton, also known as “Puff,” 30, 1500 Bell Ridge Road, Apt. 16, was charged in the death of Gary A. Couch, 25, 3765 Stone Dam Road, Chuckey, according to a police department news release.
Couch was found Saturday lying in the roadway on Quarry Road having been shot multiple times. Couch was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the subsequent investigation revealed several possible witnesses and leads in the case. From this investigation, witness statements and evidence recovered established a probable suspect in the case.
Police said Stratton was arrested Tuesday after additional interviews and an execution of a search warrant at his residence.
According to the release, the especially aggravated robbery charge stemmed from Stratton having set the victim up to rob him at the location that his body was found and taking his wallet and other items from him.
Stratton also was served with an additional warrant charging him in connection with Saturday’s burglary and theft of two autos from Reliable Motors, 528 W. Market St. Police said these charges are in connection with a burglary of the business in which two sets of car keys and a camera were stolen from the building. The keys belonged to two vehicles that were stolen: a black 1994 Mercedes-Benz S500 and a white 2002 Ford Expedition.
Police said as a result of the parallel investigation into these two incidents, investigators determined that the stolen Ford Expedition was involved in the shooting of Couch and is being held as evidence. Stratton was charged with one count of burglary, two counts of theft of property over $1,000 and one count of theft of property under $500.00.
According to the release, Stratton was served with the warrants on these charges at the Washington County Detention Center in Jonesborough, where he is being held on unrelated charges. Stratton is being held in lieu of $181,000 bond on these charges.
He will be arraigned on these charges today in Sessions Court in Jonesborough.

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