Man gets 48 years to life in Dayton babysitter’s 2017 shooting

A Dayton man convicted of murder in April for the second time in the 2017 death of a woman who was babysitting when she was hit by a hail of gunfire likely will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Chuckie Lee, 44, is incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution after a Montgomery County Common Pleas Court jury found him guilty April 4 of murder, felonious assault and gun charges in his retrial. He was sentenced May 19 to 48 years to life, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Greg Flannagan.

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Lee was convicted of fatally shooting 20-year-old Taylor Brandenburg, who stepped outside her cousin’s Huffman Avenue house in Dayton to talk to a friend on March 12, 2017, when she was struck by two bullets of a 37-bullet barrage.

Lee represented himself in his first trial and was sentenced to 61 years in prison after a jury nearly six years ago found him guilty of the same charges. An appeals court overturned Lee’s conviction and ordered a new trial. Although he was represented by an attorney, the outcome was no different with the jury finding him guilty as charged after deliberating a little over two hours.

Lee testified during his first trial that he fired the shots that killed Brandenburg but did not intend to kill her. He said he was aiming his Glock — with a 50-round drum — at Brandenburg’s cousin Ricky Mayes Jr., whose children she was babysitting at his house.

Lee said Mayes had provoked him at The Glass Hat bar, which led to a fight before he and his party left. Lee and co-defendant Evans Cassell III retrieved guns from a storage facility, and Lee’s then-girlfriend Kara Parisi-King knew where Mayes lived and led them there.

In 2018, Evans was sentenced to 18 years to life, and Parisi-King to 15 years to life in prison for their roles in Brandenburg’s death.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals in Dayton vacated Lee’s conviction and granted him a new trial nearly three years ago. The appellate court said the trial court erred because Lee’s waiver of his right to counsel was not valid.

“We cannot conclude that Lee wanted to represent himself without a continuance of trial, and we cannot conclude that Lee’s equivocal statements constituted a valid waiver of his right to counsel. This is especially so in light of his repeated attempts to explain his lack of preparedness to proceed to trial,” the ruling stated.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office appealed the ruling, but the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case, court records show.

Key concern for the prosecution at the time was that Lee’s decision to represent himself was a delay tactic, records show. The case already had been continued a few times, with Lee appointed three different defense attorneys. By the time of Lee’s August 2018 trial, he had been in jail 16 months.

Lee’s new trial also had numerous delays.

It originally was set for trial in August 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it kept getting pushed out. Motions and hearings on the motions also led to delays, with the trial set for August 2022, then October 2022. Before the October trial could happen, the court ordered a mental competency evaluation. The court in January found Lee competent and set the March 28 trial date, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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