A high profile Bradley County murder case has taken a shocking twist. Months after a grand jury indicted Donnie Brantley for the murder of his wife, her family, investigators and prosecutors requested to drop the charges.
Marsha Brantley was reported missing in November of 2009. Her body was never found. Late last year, a grand jury decided they had enough evidence to indict her husband, Donnie Brantley, for her murder.
Donnie Brantley was supposed to go on trial for murder Tuesday, but instead he's walking around a free man. The prosecution has opted to drop the case against him, at least for now. But, they say this does not mean he's off the hook for good.
"I had no idea that anyone was having second thoughts until last week," District Attorney Steve Bebb said.
In a last minute move, District Attorney Steve Bebb says Marsha Brantley's family, investigators and his assistant DA's requested to drop the murder charges against Donnie Brantley. They all still believe he killed her.
"She's not alive. She's dead somewhere and I think Donnie Brantley is responsible," Bebb said.
It's been five years since anyone has seen his wife, Marsha Brantley. Police considered Donnie a suspect early on. He didn't report her missing, her hair dresser did after several months of not seeing her at the salon. He skipped town leaving behind piles of their wedding photos. Bebb says he changed his story several times as evidence linking him was discovered.
"We want him to pay for what he did to her," Marsha's aunt Medra Justis said.
Marsha's family hasn't stopped searching for answers. They scoured the couple's house in 2012 for new clues. Investigators dug up the basement floor looking for her body, but still nothing. That's why they want to hold off on a trial.
"We did because we didn't have the body and we felt like we needed to look a littler further and maybe we're hoping to get more clues, more evidence," Justis said.
Bebb says while he feels the circumstantial evidence is strong enough for a conviction, he's supporting their decision, pointing out there's no second shot.
"I want everybody to understand I do not overrule what the assistant DA's, law enforcement and the family wants, bottom line," Bebb said.
Marsha's family is still working with the Bradley County Sheriff's Office and TBI to gather proof they think will convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt.
"We will not give up until her body is found and he pays for what he's done, so he needs to realize that and he needs to be looking over his shoulder every step he takes," Justis said.
This is District Attorney Steve Bebb's last term in office. Marsha Brantley's family hopes his successor, Steve Crump will work with them closely to keep this case from growing cold.