Fifth suspect appears in Recorder’s Court charged in 2018 Pizza Hut shooting death

Local News

The fifth and final suspect in the Buena Vista Road Pizza Hut murder case from more than a year ago appeared in Columbus Recorder’s Court Thursday morning. 

Tyree Smith, 21,  was taken into custody in Oklahoma following a traffic stop. He was extradited to Columbus where there had been an outstanding murder warrant for his arrest since November. 

He is charged in the April 6, 2018 shooting death of  Branden Denson in the restaurant’s parking lot.

Smith stood quietly in front of Judge Jennifer Cooley as a Columbus police detective outlined the evidence against him. Police say an eye-witness, security camera footage a cell phone GPS device put Smith on the scene April 6, 2018. 

In previous court cases, police have said this was drug-related homicide. Drugs were not mentioned this morning. 

Smith’s attorney, William Kendrick, argued the evidence was not strong enough to hold Smith on the murder charge. 

The judge did not agree and ordered Smith held without bond and the case bound over to Superior Court. 

“It seems that what we were able to get out of this hearing is that he was not the shooter and he did not have a gun,” Kendrick said. “There seemed to be some evidence that seemed to support that he was possibly on the scene. But when we dove into that, that’s coming from video evidence from one of the stores around the Pizza Hut.” 

Eric Spencer, Dover Coppins, Tommie Mullins, and Johnathan Swift have all been previously arrested in connection to the case.

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