WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Less than 24 hours after 30-year-old Branden Cagley was arrested in connection to the shooting death of his step-grandfather, he made his first appeared in Girard Municipal Court.
Cagley pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge.
Investigators say his step-grandfather, 81-year-old James Phillips, was found dead in a bedroom, where multiple shots had been fired.
They say just before 4 p.m., Cagley called 911 to report that he shot Phillips in the stomach or chest.
“The dispatcher did an excellent job of trying to calm the situation down, getting the information,” said Ernest Cook, the new director at the Trumbull County 911 Dispatch Center.
In that call, Cagley says he and Phillips had been arguing over a car and when his grandmother tried to intervene, Cagley feared for her safety. He said Phillips was “acting aggressive” toward her prior to the shooting.
Cagley surrendered to police outside of the home.
“He had no right to shoot my dad like that,” said Phillips’ daughter Cheryl.
She was overcome with emotion following Cagley’s arraignment, saying she was shocked when she heard about what happened even though she knew Cagley and her father have argued in the past.
“We first pulled up on the scene and I saw the yellow tape, and my friend said, ‘He’s dead,’ and I couldn’t believe it.”
On Sunday, Liberty Police initially stated that they had never been called to the house before. Upon further investigation, two separate incidences where officers had to be dispatched to the home were discovered.
In April of 2010, police were called to Lucretia Drive about an argument between Phillips and a husband and wife who lived nearby. They claimed that Phillips hit the woman in the face.
Phillips told police that he never hit the woman, but said he pushed her away when she tried to slap him. Officers said they did observe several lacerations on her face.
According to a report from March 2012, Cagley messaged the husband on Facebook about a conversation he had with his step-grandfather. In the message, Cagley claimed that Phillips threatened to shoot the neighbor and walked between the houses with a flashlight and gun.
When police spoke with Phillips about the incident, he said he had spoken to Cagley and walked around with a flashlight. He denied having a gun in his possession.
Cagley remains in Trumbull County Jail on $250,000 bond. If he does post bond, he must be under an electronic monitoring system during that time.
He is due back in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.