Ernest Pyle gets 25 years in Pigeon Forge kidnapping

Jun. 05, 2013 @ 11:09 PM

Judge Richard Vance gave the maximum sentence of 25 years to an Indiana man convicted of especially aggravated kidnapping for holding his girlfriend prisoner in a Pigeon Forge hotel room in March 2010.

A local jury convicted Ernest Pyle, 48, of Milan, Ind., last year on two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated kidnaping and one count of resisting arrest. Under sentencing guidelines, he must serve the full 25-year sentence.

Pyle showed no emotion as Vance announced his decision, and did not speak during the hearing.

He actually took the stand during his trial to say that his girlfriend, Kathy Miller, had concocted the story that led to the charges — that he had turned on her after they came down to this area, choking her when she tried to leave and then binding her with duct tape and keeping her in the bathroom of their room at the Grand Inn Hotel.

“While he was on the stand, the defendant showed no remorse,” prosecutor Ashley McDermott said. “He blamed the victim.”

McDermott noted the jury had found two enhancing factors for the judge to consider in sentencing Pyle — his cruelty during the crime, and disregard for the risk to Miller’s life.

During the trial, she noted, Miller testified that he came to the hotel room with a hammer, pliers and other tools and threatened to use them to beat and torture her, as well as a tarp he said he would use to carry her body out.

Miller was not present for Tuesday’s proceedings; she had told prosecutors she never wanted to be in the same room with Pyle again.

At the trial, she testified that she and Pyle had come here in part to avoid criminal charges against Pyle that she had initiated. After an argument, she had told authorities in Indiana about an indoor pot growing operation he maintained at his house.

He was facing felony charges after law enforcement raided his home and found the operation, but she said they had gotten back together after that and she believed he had forgiven her.

When she said she was ready to leave Pigeon Forge, however, he turned on her and attacked her before she could get out the door. She said she was held for five days before she escaped and contacted local police.

Defense attorney Jim Hickman noted Pyle was never convicted on the drug charges — he’s never been back to Indiana since coming to Pigeon forge.

“These do not show convictions, they are charges only,” he told Vance.

However, Vance said there was overwhelming proof that Pyle had committed a crime — on the stand, he admitted to growing the marijuana but said he planned to use it all himself.

He said there was no doubt in his mind that the jury was correct in finding the enhancing factors, either.

‘There’s no question from the evidence at the trial that Mr. Pyle treated Miss Miller brutally,” Vance said.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com