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Three from Walmart parking lot shooting make first court appearance Monday

John Thompson • Nov 26, 2018 at 10:54 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The two men and a woman who face charges in a Nov. 18 shooting in the parking lot of the Elizabethton Walmart store made their first appearance in Carter County Sessions Court on Monday.

Brandon Ronnie Rhea, 19, is accused of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony. Michael Joe Arnold, 21, and Jonelle O’Brien, 18, are each charged with aggravated robbery, accessory after the fact and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Judge Keith Bowers Jr. appointed a public defender for Rhea. Attorney Ryan Jeffers was appointed to defend O’Brien. Both were ordered to report back on Dec. 7. Arnold was ordered to be back in court on Jan. 25 with his attorney.

The Elizabethton Police Department said the incident was a planned 7 a.m. robbery of two men who who allegedly selling illicit drugs. Police said a drug purchase was arranged in the parking lot. Once the men showed up, the deal was commenced, but the robbery was then attempted.

Police said one of the men who was being robbed attempted to escape on foot, but was shot once in the chest by Rhea. He was driven to the emergency room at Sycamore Shoals Hospital by the man who had come to the alleged drug deal with him. The man has since been released from the hospital.

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