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Published 11:01 pm Monday, February 3, 2014

Tiffany Upshaw is alleged to have murdered her boyfriend Melvin Scott.

Tiffany Upshaw is alleged to have murdered her boyfriend Melvin Scott.

Murder suspect Upshaw seeks change of venue, lower bond

A rap video, newspaper headline and crime scene photographs came under debate as Circuit Court Judge Jeff Kelley heard arguments for two motions filed by murder suspect Tiffany Upshaw.

J. Carlton Taylor represented Upshaw in the matter. He argued that the July 16, 2013, issue of The Messenger included an article that would prevent selection of an impartial jury.

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Taylor’s first complaint was with the headline, “DA: Murder victim was running away, shot in the back.”

The defense plans to argue that Upshaw fatally shot Melvin Scott, the father of her child, in a domestic dispute last July at Woodland Hills Apartments in Troy. Upshaw, 24, was charged with felony murder in the shooting, which took place July 8, 2013.

Taylor also took issue with a rap video Upshaw posted to YouTube weeks before the incident. In the music video, Upshaw was holding a gun. Taylor said the video was not relevant to the case.

“The video was made two months prior to the shooting and made for entertainment purposes,” he said. “There’s no reference to the victim, no reference to shooting the victim.”

Assistant District Attorney Chris Kaminski asked Kelley not to suppress the video completely. If Upshaw chooses to take the stand, Kaminski said the video could prove relevant and he wanted to reserve the right to question her about it.

He called the defense’s use of the video Upshaw posted “incredibly self-serving.”

Of the 155 photos offered as evidence by the state, Taylor asked that the eight photos of the victim be suppressed.

He also asked that the video of the crime scene be deemed inadmissible.

“We would just argue they’re overly prejudicial, considering the graphic nature of the content,” Taylor said.

He also argued that the photographs and video were duplicitous and the state should choose one or the other.

Kaminski said the evidence was extremely relevant, especially since they were the only photographs of the victim. He planned to use the photographs to show where the gunshot wound was located.

“I don’t think anybody is expecting to see sunflowers and roses,” Kaminski said. “It’s a murder case.”

Kelley examined the photos and chose three that he said was not extremely prejudicial and would be allowed at the trial.

Taylor asked the judge to reduce the bail to $50,000 because Upshaw’s family had no means of raising money for a $100,000 bond. He argued that the defense would prove the shooting was self-defense and therefore not murder, but manslaughter. Taylor said Upshaw was not a flight risk because she had lived in Pike County for most of her life.

He said Upshaw failed to appear in previous court cases because she did not have an attorney and did not know when she was due in court.

Kaminski was opposed to reducing the bail.

“I don’t understand the argument about not knowing when to appear. It’s not like she has an isolated failure to appear. She has three of them. There is serious concern that she will fail to appear,” he said.

Kelley said it had already been determined that Upshaw was not a flight risk because she’d been given a bond. He took the arguments under advisement.