Convicted murderer Christopher Kennedy was captured in Illinois on Wednesday.
He and his wife, Evelyn Kennedy, were each found guilty of felony murder and aggravated neglect of an elderly or vulnerable adult in Roane County Criminal Court on July 15.
The Kennedys were out on bond while the case was pending. Christopher Kennedy failed to show up for the final day of the trial at the Roane County Courthouse. The case continued without him. The jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning the guilty verdicts.
Evelyn Kennedy was sentenced to life in prison. A life sentence also awaits Christopher Kennedy when he’s returned to Roane County.
“With that kind of conviction, the judge imposes a life sentence,” Senior Assistant District Attorney General Bob Edwards said.
Christopher Kennedy was being held at the Clark County Jail in Marshall, Ill., as of press time.
“He’s got to make a choice,” Edwards said. “He can waive his right to extradition or he can fight extradition and come back on a governor’s warrant.”
Christopher Kennedy was on the lam for just over a month before he was captured.
“If he waives extradition, he could be down here within 10 days,” Edwards said. “If he fights it, he could sit in an Illinois jail for a couple of months or more before we can get all the paperwork through the governors’ offices in both Tennessee and Illinois to do the extradition.”
The murder case against the Kennedys was investigated by the Roane County Sheriff’s Office. Edwards and Assistant District Attorney General Jonathan Edwards prosecuted the Kennedys for the state.
Harriman City Council members Sam Russell, Lonnie Wright and Buddy Holley stepped down from their council chairs for the last time on Tuesday. Mayor Wayne Best presented the three with keys to the city. Russell and Wright lost their re-election bids earlier this month. Holley didn’t seek re-election.
“I’m excited about the new ones coming in,” Best said. “The ones going out, the ones that won’t be with us, there’s still plenty of work here. We hope you guys will still be around and continue to help and be a part of our city.”
Other city officials stopped and spoke glowingly of the outgoing officials.
“Mr. Wright, I want to say, you’ve been on the police committee since I’ve been here,” Police Chief Baron Tapp said. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done for the police department and the city of Harriman. Mr. Holley, you’ve always been an outstanding person, and always go out of your way to speak every time I see you. Hopefully, you won’t mind if I stop and see you some time. And Sam, you’re going to be missed buddy, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
Fire Chief Brad Daniels said his farewells as well.
“Mr.Wright, I’ve enjoyed the whole time working with you,” Daniels said. “You’ve always been there for the fire department. I would always expect when I was going to bring some equipment to the table, you were going to ask the questions, so I was always ready for you to ask those questions. Sam was one of my fire commissioners. He was the type of person if you ever had a complaint with my department or something, he came to my office and sat down with me.”
Alicia Harris, Johnny “Knobby” Brackett and Travis Kirkland were the winners in the Aug. 4 election.
Local governments are going on record in opposition of elemental mercury being stored inside the city of Kingston.
“We don’t need it here,” Kingston City Council Member Randy Childs said.
“I totally agree,” Kingston City Council Member Jeff Griffis added.
According to a U.S. Department of Energy draft impact statement, the Perma-Fix DSSI facility on Gallaher Road in Kingston is one eight locations under consideration for the long-term management and storage of elemental mercury.
“For a variety of public health, safety, environmental and socioeconomic reasons, the City of Kingston does not support the designation of this facility for the management and storage of elemental mercury,” a Kingston City Council resolution states. “The City Council, on behalf of the citizens of Kingston, wishes to collectively convey to DOE their collective opposition to the proposed long-term management and storage of elemental mercury within the corporate limits of Kingston.”
The Kingston City Council approved the resolution during its meeting on Aug. 9.
“We have submitted it through the public comment process,” Kingston City Manager David Bolling said.
The Oak Ridge City Council approved a similar resolution on Aug. 8.
“We would strongly recommend us make our opinion known to the DOE folks that are handling this out of Cincinnati,” Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said.
Oak Ridge’s prepared comments on the issue said the facility under consideration will not induce people to move to the area.
“The transportation of elemental mercury near residential areas also has not been examined, with the proposed facility being in close proximity to the city limits of Oak Ridge, while fully residing in the city limits of Kingston,” the Oak Ridge comments state. “The draft SEIS (Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) mistakenly states the proposed Kingston facility is 10 miles from Oak Ridge; the accurate distance is approximately 2.4 miles from the Oak Ridge City limits.”
The other locations under consideration for elemental mercury storage include the Hawthorne Army Depot near Hawthorne, Nevada, Waste Control Specialists LLC near Andrews, Texas, Bethlehem Apparatus in Bethlehem, Penn., Veolia Environmental Services in Gum Springs, Ark., and Clean Harbors Environmental Services locations in Tooele, Utah, Greenbrier, Tenn., and Pecatonica, Ill.
“Based on this preliminary analysis of direct, indirect effect and cumulative impact, the City of Oak Ridge, Tenn., strongly requests and advises that DOE remove the Kingston, Tenn., site from further consideration for the storage of mercury waste,” Oak Ridge’s comments state. “We further recommend that DOE not accept the no action alternative as such a decision will adversely impact the city’s community goal of reducing mercury storage in the city and region.”
A domestic assault charge against Roane County Administrator of Elections Charles Holiway was dismissed in General Sessions Court on Tuesday.
Holiway was booked into the Roane County Jail on the charge on Aug. 13 around 2:30 p.m. The charging agency was the Roane County Sheriff’s Office.
Holiway spent hours in jail before being released on his own recognizance.
According to court records, District Attorney General Russell Johnson investigated the allegation with Pat Cooley, Holiway’s attorney, on Tuesday.
“The defendant has provided a letter dated Aug. 15, 2022, from Dr. Kristin Cardona, who has medically evaluated the alleged victim, Elizabeth Holiway,” court records said. “The letter clears the (defendant) of any evidence of ‘abuse or neglect’ and notes that the alleged victim denies ‘spousal abuse, whether physical or emotional.’ ”
The doctor’s letter was included with the court records.
“I have medically evaluated Elizabeth Holiway and found no evidence of abuse or neglect,” the letter said. “Patient categorically denies any episode of spousal abuse, whether physical or emotional. Son at beside confirms he has no concerns regarding the care and safety of his mother.”
A phone message left for Holiway wasn’t returned. Cooley declined to comment on the case.
The charge was dismissed on the state’s motion not to prosecute. The court costs associated with the case were taxed to the state.
A lawsuit filed against the city of Harriman over public records has been dismissed.
Brian Mullins sued the city in Roane County Circuit Court to obtain records related to an incident on April 1. Mullins said he confronted two men with an AR-15 after someone broke a gate on property he leases off Prong Road. Harriman police cited the men, Jordan Cox and Lucas Emily, for criminal trespass.
Mullins has accused Harriman police of acting unprofessionally and requested the police body camera videos and other records related to the case. A July 12 hearing in the case didn’t happen.
“Two days before the hearing date, on Sunday, July 10, 2022, the city finally furnished petitioner with a written response to the public records request,” a stipulation of dismissal filed by Mullins’ attorney states. “The city’s written response was provided 65 days after the date of the Public Records Request whereas the Public Records Act allows only seven days for such response. Therefore, in light of the city finally furnishing petitioner with a written response to his public records request, petitioner hereby notifies the Court, pursuant to Tennessee Civil Procedure Rule 41.01 that the above-styled lawsuit — Case No. 2022CV56 — is dismissed without prejudice to refiling.”
Circuit Court Judge Mike Pemberton signed the order of dismissal without prejudice on July 22.
“They say you can’t fight city hall,” Mullins said. “You can fight city hall. When they would not comply with my request as a citizen of the state of Tennessee, I got a lawyer and sued them and at the last minute, they responded to my request.”
A dismissal without prejudice means the lawsuit can be refiled.
“We can bring this up again if we need to, and we’re going to watch what happens with these two guys in court,” Mullins said.
In addition to criminal trespass, Emily was also charged with vandalism and simple possession/casual exchange and Cox was charged with driving while license suspended. The charges against Cox were bound over to the grand jury on Tuesday. Emily also had a hearing scheduled on Tuesday, but it was postponed until Sept. 20.
Mullins said he has yet to obtain the police body camera videos of the incident.
“My lawyer researched it and it is correct that the body camera videos can be withheld while the case is pending,” Mullins said. “That is the law and I have to accept that. I don’t like the fact that I had to spend money to hire an attorney to make the city follow the law.”
Harriman City Manager Scott Mason said the city had no comment on the lawsuit being dismissed.
“The outstanding costs of this action, if any, are taxed to petitioner, Brian Mullins,” the order of dismissal said.