A Scott County jury deliberated for several hours Wednesday before finding Tristin Alderman and D’marithe Culbreath guilty in the September 2017 shooting death of 20-year-old Brady Tumlinson.
The jury of seven women and five men found Alderman, 22, guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony. They found Culbreath, 21, guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony.
Culbreath looked down briefly as Judge Mary Howes read the verdict on the murder charge.
The family and friends of Tumlinson and his girlfriend, who also was shot multiple times, wept as Judge Mary Howes read the verdicts. Some pumped their fists in the air.
“Obviously we’re very relieved that this jury was patient and willing to listen to all of that evidence. There was a lot, and it’s a just result,” Assistant Scott County Attorney Amy DeVine said Wednesday.
Both men will be sentenced Feb. 14. The murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutors say the two men, along with co-defendant Nakita Wiseman and two other men, conspired to rob Tumlinson at his home in the 1300 block of South Nevada Avenue.
Tumlinson and his girlfriend were asleep in their bedroom on the morning of Sept. 22, 2017, when the shooting began. Tumlison shot back in self-defense and struck Culbreath in the forehead, said prosecutors.
The couple was found by police at 7:34 a.m. Tumlinson was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman suffered life-threatening injuries but survived the shooting.
Police and prosecutors have said cell tower records place Alderman, Culbreath, Wiseman and the two other men in the area at the time of the shooting. A neighbor’s surveillance video also shows five people running from Tumlinson’s home.
Culbreath's DNA was found on a bullet fragment collected from the bedroom wall, on a gate at the home and on a pair of latex gloves that were found in the street.
Wiseman, 22, pleaded guilty in April to first-degree burglary, a Class B felony, and second-degree robbery, a Class C felony. His sentencing is set for Friday.
The other two accomplices have not been charged in connection with the case as of Wednesday.
DeVine told jurors in her closing argument that the case was about “greed and betrayal“ by all five conspirators, and, specifically, the betrayal of Alderman, a friend of Tumlinson’s.
She said phone records show that their friendship had become strained.
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“Brady was shutting Alderman out,” she said. “And Alderman knew that and it was pissing him off. And so it was at that time that he developed that plan.”
That plan, she said, was to take money or drugs from Tumlinson.
DeVine said that Alderman recruited Wiseman and another alleged accomplice. That man then recruited Culbreath and the fifth alleged accomplice, she said.
DeVine said after the shooting, Alderman had “every intention of going back and finishing his plan” to get to Tumlinson’s safe, and did an internet search about how to crack a safe an hour after he learned that Tumlinson had died.
“That’s not a coincidence,” she said.
After the shooting, Alderman returned to the home and directed police to the bloody pair gloves that contained Culbreath’s DNA.
She disputed Culbreath’s earlier testimony that he did not know anyone was in the house and pointed to his interview with police in October 2017 when he said Alderman had pointed to the bedroom window and told him “he’s right in there.”
“There was discussion of money being in that house and they were going to take it by any means necessary,” she said. “That’s why at least one of them was armed with a firearm.”
Alderman’s attorney, Jill Eimermann, said in her closing argument that the evidence “clearly showed” that her client was not directly responsible for Tumlinson’s death and argued that prosecutors failed to prove that Alderman aided and abetted his alleged co-conspirators or had the intent to commit a robbery or burglary that morning.
“There was no plan to take the gun, there was no plan to go into the bedroom, there was no plan to shoot anybody and there was no plan for Brady to die that night,” she argued. “So, if you believe that any of those things happened, it’s because D’marithe Culbreath decided on his own that that’s what he was going to do. He went in recklessly with a gun and started shooting. But that was not the plan.”
Eimermann also argued that Wiseman and Culbreath, both of whom testified at trial, gave several inconsistent statements.
Culbreath testified that he did not have a gun that night and that it was another accomplice, whom he didn't name, that shot Tumlison after Culbreath was shot.
Steven Stickle, one of Culbreath’s attorneys, argued that his client was not aware of any plans that morning and, after being handed gloves, he suspected that he was going to be committing a burglary.
“He was an unwitting puppet to whatever plans may have existed amongst the other people involved in this case," Stickle said. "He did not have any warning.”
Culbreath also was represented by attorney Rebecca Ruggero. The case also was tried by Assistant Scott County Atttorney Caleb Copley.