The Richmond Register

December 15, 2011

Detective: Shooting suspect ‘executed’ victim

Cases sent to grand jury

By Ronica Shannon
Register News Writer

BEREA — Accused murder accomplice Ryan Denholm reportedly asked his Jefferson County cellmate if he thought God would forgive a person for murder.

This was part of Berea Police Detective Daniel Brewer’s testimony Wednesday during a preliminary hearing for four people accused in the Nov. 21 shooting death of Zachary Dustin Flower.

Flower was killed at an apartment in the Oliver Building on Chestnut Street, across from the Berea Police Department.

The cases of the four defendants — Matthew Denholm, 27, Ryan Denholm, 30, Sherry Lynn Bratten, 31 and Randall J. Burgess, 18 — all were referred to a Madison grand jury, which will decide whether to indict them.

Matthew Denholm was arrested Nov. 21 was arrested after being pulled over by Jefferson County police. His brother, Ryan, and Bratten were in the car and later were charged with complicity to commit murder. The three had been on the run since the shooting, according to police.

Burgess was arrested Nov. 23 after Berea police discovered he allegedly had allowed his car to be used to commit the crime and did not attempt to stop the shooting from happening.

Madison District Judge Brandy Oliver Brown recused herself from the hearing because her father owns the Oliver Building.

Judge Chuck Hardin took her place on the bench prior to the hearings.

Matthew Denholm is charged with murder, first-degree burglary and attempted murder.

Ryan Denholm faces a complicity murder charge along with attempted murder and first-degree complicity to commit first-degree burglary.

Bratten is charged with complicity to murder, attempted murder and first-degree complicity to commit burglary.

Burgess is being charged with facilitation to murder, facilitation to first-degree burglary and attempted murder.

The attempted murder charges stem from the shooting of Kevin Price, Flower’s roommate.

Brewer, who gave the only testimony in Wednesday’s hearing, said Price was undergoing a slow recovery and is now beginning to walk again.

Matthew Denholm allegedly was in a Nov. 20 fight with two Hispanic males in the parking lot behind the Oliver Building across from Berea City Hall, Brewer testified. The fight allegedly was over a tool stolen from Denholm, he said.

The future shooting victims, who lived in an apartment there, heard a commotion and went outside to break up the fight, according to Capt. Ken Clark of the Berea Police Department.

Matthew Denholm said he would be back, Clark said.

When Matthew Denholm returned to the apartment the next day, he shot through the victims’ apartment door and then kicked the door open, police say. He allegedly fired two shots at Flower, killing him.

The state medical examiner said Flower died from multiple gunshot wounds, Brewer testified.

Price told police he saw Matthew Denholm shoot Flower through the wrist and face with a deer rifle, Brewer said.

After being interviewed by police, Ryan Denholm admitted to bringing the rifle to Matthew.

Ryan Denholm accused his brother of “executing that dude,” Brewer said.

Matthew Denholm is being represented by Bridget Saunders and Aaron Currin of the Capital Trial Branch of the Department of Public Advocacy. Ryan is represented by Berea attorney Tim Despotes, Bratton is represented by attorney Braxton Crenshaw and Burgess is represented by attorney Teresa Whitaker.

Matthew Denholm is being held at the Madison County Detention Center on a $1 million bond. Ryan Denholm and Bratten are being held on a $750,000 bond and Burgess has a $100,000 bond.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 624-6608.