Former Log Home Salesman Gets Probation in Theft Case

A former log home salesman and minister charged with theft for allegedly taking money from clients who ordered from him and not delivering on the product appeared in DeKalb County Criminal Court Friday.
Judge David Patterson presided.
49 year old Lawton Duane Park, originally indicted for four counts of theft involving two victims, entered a best interest plea Friday to one count of theft over $10,000 (which occurred June 8, 2015) and received a five year sentence but he will be on judicial diversion during that period. Other charges against him are to be dropped. If he abides by all terms and conditions of his probation the case will be dismissed after five years and he may apply for expungement of his record. Under the plea agreement, Park maintains his innocence but he must make restitution of $30,261 to one victim and $31,000 to another.
Park, former operator of Starry Hill Log Homes, was accused of entering into contracts with the victims for the sale of log home kits to be set up at their homes in another state. However after accepting payment for the kits, Park allegedly breached the contracts by failing to produce the products sold.
After the hearing, Park released the following prepared statement:
“I have chosen to enter this “Best Interest” plea for that very reason. It is in the best interest, of my family and I, to bring a resolution to a case that would, potentially, drag on even longer than the two years it already has. I strongly maintain my innocence”.
“As a family we determined not to let the circumstances DEFINE but rather REFINE us. We are grateful to God for His grace during this time. We thank Mr. (Hilton) Conger (Park’s attorney) for his patience and stellar representation and Juliana for her kindness. God is good all the time and Jesus is Lord.”

DeKalb Athletes Compete in Challenger Cup Soccer Tournament

DeKalb County athletes Cameron Miller and Evan Morse were part of the winning soccer team at the 2017 Challenger Cup Soccer Tournament held December 2-3 in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Miller and Morse played for the Murfreesboro Soccer Club Strikers 2004 team, a premier travel soccer team. Their team placed first in the state in its
division last May, and looks forward to another competitive season this spring.

Great Crowd Shared in the Fun of “Christmas on the Square”

A great crowd shared in the fun of “Christmas on the Square” Thursday evening downtown Smithville.
Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss, County Mayor Tim Stribling, and Chamber Director Suzanne Williams opened the program with brief welcoming remarks at the 303 building followed by a group of singers from the Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church and then the Community Chorus who entertained performing delightful Christmas songs. Behind them was a LIVE nativity (no animals) by the Smithville Nazarene Youth and the cast of Steel Magnolias made an appearance. Inside the building was a festival of decorated and lighted Christmas trees provided by local businesses and other organizations..
After the entertainment, county officials and their employees greeted visitors at the courthouse and served refreshments and a free photo booth was available with holiday music provided by the City of Smithville.
The DeKalb Animal Shelter held an Adopt-A-Pet event at the Coalition’s Restore on Walnut Street giving folks a chance to have a pet of their own or as a gift in time for the holidays
Children got a chance to visit with Santa at Justin Potter Library and to make their own Christmas ornament to take home.
Several stores also stayed open extended hours to accommodate holiday shoppers.

Habitat to Raffle Yeti Tundra 45

Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County will raffle an ice blue Yeti Tundra 45 on Saturday, December 16. The drawing will be held on WJLE Radio at 10:00 a.m.
All proceeds will go toward construction of the next partner family home by Habitat for Humanity of DeKalb County.
Purchase tickets at Kilgore’s Restaurant, DeKalb Ace Hardware, DeKalb County Clerk James L. (Jimmy) Poss, DeKalb Farmers Coop, or at Wilson Bank & Trust. The ticket prices are one for $5.00 or 5 for $20.00.

Another Conviction for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

A 45 year old Smithville man indicted for sexual exploitation of a minor entered a guilty plea last week in DeKalb County Criminal Court and received a seven year prison sentence.
Louis Simon Lopez, III was charged almost a year ago by Smithville Police after photos and videos of child porn (less than 50 images) were allegedly found on his laptop.
Judge David Patterson sentenced Lopez to seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction to serve at least 30% before he is eligible for parole. Lopez was given jail credit of 213 days. His name will also be on the sex offender registry
According to Chief Mark Collins, Smithville Police were informed on Saturday, January 7 that Lopez was the owner of a laptop that had several pictures and videos of what appeared to be children under the age of 18 naked and engaging in sex acts. Upon investigation, a warrant was obtained and Lopez was taken into custody without incident.

More Potential Candidates Pick up Qualifying Petitions for May Democratic Primary

The DeKalb County Election Commission has issued more qualifying petitions to potential candidates for the May 1, 2018 DeKalb County Democratic Primary
Those who have obtained petitions to date are as follows:
*Bradley Hendrix-County Mayor
*Scott Little-County Commissioner 4th District
*Betty Atnip-County Commissioner 6th District
*James L. (Jimmy) Poss- County Clerk
*Jimmy Sprague-Road Supervisor
*Jeff McMillen-Register of Deeds
*Nicole Wright-Circuit Court Clerk
*Mark Milam-Circuit Court Clerk
*Julie Young-County Commissioner1st District
*Bobby R. Taylor-County Commissioner 4th District
Poss’ petition has been returned and (enough signatures) verified
In addition to County Clerk James L. “Jimmy” Poss, Road Supervisor candidate Jimmy Sprague, and Circuit Court Clerk candidates Nicole Wright and Mark Milam, others who have made public announcements on WJLE of their intentions to run for election or re-election in 2018 as Republicans are:
*Sheriff Patrick Ray
*Danny Hale for Road Supervisor
*Reed Edge for Road Supervisor
*Susan Martin for Circuit Court Clerk
The following county offices are up for election in 2018: Road Supervisor, County Mayor, Circuit Court Clerk, Sheriff, Register of Deeds, County Clerk, and Trustee and for the county commission in each of the seven districts (two per district for a total of 14).
DeKalb County Democrats will be nominating candidates for county offices in a primary set for May 1, 2018.
Democratic nominees will face any Republican and or Independent challengers in the August, 2018 general election. The DeKalb County Republican Party will be choosing its nominees by caucus. The qualifying deadline for all candidates will be the same, NOON February 15, 2018.

Crews Gets 20 Years for 2nd Degree Murder in Fatal Stabbing of Ashley Bain, Victim’s Family Upset

A man indicted for 1st degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend in DeKalb County almost three years ago was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction but the family of the victim is not happy with the outcome and feels betrayed by District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway for not pursuing harsher punishment.
44 year old Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews appeared before Judge Gary McKenzie in Putnam County Criminal Court at Cookeville where he entered a plea under a negotiated settlement to 2nd degree murder in the death of 28 year old Ashley Bain. As a range 1 offender, Crews will serve his 20 year sentence at 100% but he could earn good time credit of up to 15% off his sentence, although that is not a guarantee. After being behind bars since his arrest on February 5, 2015, Crews will be given jail credit for that time of two years and ten months. Crews has been incarcerated at the Putnam County Jail.
WJLE was in the courtroom for the hearing and spoke with the D.A and a member of the Bain family afterward.
Prior to sentencing, Judge McKenzie permitted members of Bain’s family to speak in objection to the plea deal between Crews and prosecutors. The victim’s brother Cleveland Derrick Bain, who is an attorney, and Ashley’s father Cleveland Bain, both addressed the court saying that a 20 year sentence was unjust and should be rejected by the judge.
“Please don’t let this happen. Twenty years is not right. Ashley and her children deserve better,” said Derrick Bain.
Other members of the victim’s family were also present in the courtroom including her mother, but they did not address the court.
Had Crews gone to trial and been convicted as indicted for “premeditated” 1st degree murder, he could have faced a sentence of life in prison either with or without the possibility of parole. In a 2nd degree murder, one must have “knowingly” killed another. “Premeditation” is not an element of that crime. The punishment for a range 1 offender for 2nd degree murder, such as Crews is 15 to 25 years.
Both District Attorney General Dunaway and Crew’s attorney, District Public Defender Craig Fickling said that a 1st degree murder conviction by a jury in this case was less likely than 2nd degree murder and the plea deal offered was in line with the range of punishment Crews may have received had he gone to trial and been convicted of 2nd degree murder. They went on to say that a jury might even have convicted Crews of the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter which carries a range of punishment of 3 to 6 years at 30%.
In defending his position, Dunaway said “I believe this is a legally responsible result to this case”.
“I feel for the Bain family. I can’t imagine the pain they feel losing a family member. I understand their frustration, their anguish. It’s always difficult conversations that I have with victim’s families in homicide cases but on a legal basis I do strongly believe that a 2nd degree murder conviction with a 20 year sentence is legally reasonable and just and that is where my conscience landed in this situation,” said Dunaway.
In accepting the plea agreement, Judge McKenzie acknowledged that it was a difficult decision and said his heart goes out to the victim’s family, but that as judge “my job is not to be prosecutor but to be impartial as all the facts are presented. If there is a legal basis for the plea then that is the test here. I understand there are different views but I have to make a decision today. I will accept the plea agreement,” said Judge McKenzie
In addressing Crews prior to sentencing, Judge McKenzie said “you have taken a life, a sister, mother, and friend to many people. Everything she ever would be or was you put an end to it,” he said.
The murder trial had been set for February 13, 2018 with pre-trial motions to have been heard December 13.
The crime was committed on the afternoon of Thursday, February 5, 2015.
Bain’s body was found lying on the floor of a bedroom at the home she and Crews shared at 3870 Cookeville Highway, Smithville.
Bain was stabbed numerous times about the upper body. A bloody knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was found in the home.
According to Sheriff Patrick Ray at the time, Crews called 911 at 2:33 p.m. on February 5, 2015 to report that he had discovered Bain’s body when he entered the residence. Sheriff Ray and members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department were alerted and quickly arrived on the scene. The TBI and District Attorney General’s Office also joined the investigation. Sheriff Ray said authorities determined that Crews had committed the crime and made up the story about finding the body.
Dunaway told WJLE after the hearing that prosecutors believe Crews became upset with Bain over contact with a prior boyfriend and that he got drunk and confronted her about it which resulted in an argument and the murder.
“The victim in this case (Bain) and Anthony Crews (who was married to another woman at the time) were in a relationship. They (Bain and Crews) were not married. The victim had contact and dealings with a prior boyfriend close in time to this event. We believe Mr. Crews got intoxicated and they got to arguing about this prior boyfriend and then the murder happened. We have Mr. Crews on video at 1 p.m. on February 5, 2015 buying alcohol at a local convenience store. He appeared to be acting normal at that time. Just an hour and a half later we have him making a 911 call. He appeared obviously intoxicated on that 911 call and he appeared to be intoxicated when law enforcement officers arrived at the scene. We found those empty alcoholic beverage containers that he had purchased an hour and a half earlier in the home. We feel confident he was intoxicated and based upon all the circumstances we feel like it was a domestic argument that went really badly and unfortunately Ashley Bain lost her life,” said Dunaway.
Upset over the plea deal, Derrick Bain told WJLE after the hearing that the Bain family feels that the District Attorney misled them into thinking he would prosecute this brutal killing to the fullest extent of the law.
“Over what will be three years in February the District Attorney’s Office had been steadfast in their position that they were going to prosecute this case fervently. It wasn’t until last week that they told us (members of the family) they were going to do a plea agreement. The plea agreement they told us then was different than the plea agreement today (Wednesday). We as a family believe that it is unjust and its wrong. We don’t believe that justice was served today,” said Bain.
“Ashley keeps being re-victimized. She was originally a victim of this horrible crime. She and her children are being re-victimized today by this plea agreement. Its unbelievable to think that you could stab somebody multiple times in the middle of the afternoon and possibly be out of jail in 17 years. Not only is it a concern for us and our family, its a concern for other families in this area. What peace and solace do they have when their elected officials, the district attorney and the judges are allowing these types of plea bargains in these types of cases. That is one of our biggest concerns,” Bain continued.
“This is what I want people to know. It is the district attorney’s job to go into the courtroom and take the hard cases, the brutal cases and try them. They are not easy. They are not pleasant but its their job. When he signed up for this job, he took an oath that he was going to go in there and pursue these cases and pursue justice but what he did was plea a guy out who stabbed somebody multiple times. I don’t think that he did his job,” said Bain.
For the first time, the Bain family learned Wednesday during the hearing that while Crews had never confessed to investigators, he had told his wife on the phone after killing Bain that he had done it because “she crossed me”.
“He did not confess to the murder in anyway,” D.A. Dunaway told WJLE. “What that reference amounts to is that while Crews was in a relationship with Bain he was still married at the time of this murder to a woman who lived outside of Smithville. Crews’ wife would have testified that on the night of the murder that Crews made a phone call to her letting her know that he was being charged with murder. She would have testified that she thought he was just kidding. When she asked him why he did it he made the statement “because she crossed me”. That can be interpreted in a lot of ways. But that is the only thing that comes close to a confession. Crews never confessed to killing Ashley Bain,” said Dunaway.
Although Crews was under indictment for 1st degree murder in the death of Bain, he was originally charged with 2nd degree murder. Proving 1st degree murder in this case, Dunaway said would have been a legal challenge.
“That’s what we felt like that facts of the case supported at that time (2nd degree murder). Later when we presented the case to the grand jury it was indicted as a 1st degree murder. But as we continued on evaluating the proof, going through it with a fine tooth comb we (prosecutors and myself) came to the conclusion that proving the element of premeditation in this case was going to be quite a large hurdle. To convict somebody of 1st degree murder in this case we would have to prove the element of premeditation and in a nutshell premeditation means that the murder was planned ahead of time. When we looked at all of the proof and all of the witnesses and physical evidence that we had available to us, premeditation was very thin. Then we have to begin an analysis of if we take this to trial, what is a jury likely to convict Anthony Crews of? I believed after looking at all the evidence that we had was that the best scenario was that a jury would convict him of 2nd degree murder. That is what happened today. Anthony Crews stood before the court and declared that he was guilty of the 2nd degree murder of Ashley Bain and he agreed to accept a 20 year prison sentence,” said Dunaway.
“With a 2nd degree murder conviction, the only possible punishment that could be imposed on Mr. Crews would be a range of 15 to 25 years. The sentence that he accepted today was right in the middle of that range. Had a jury convicted him of 2nd degree murder at trial, then in that process the judge would have had to determine what amount of sentence he would have served between that range of 15 to 25 years. In that scenario its possible the judge would have sentenced him to 15 years. Its possible it would have been 25 years. There is really no way to know until that type of hearing is held,” Dunaway continued.
“Another thing which came into consideration was that based upon the facts and proof in this case a jury could have come back with a conviction of involuntary manslaughter which is a lesser offense. Had he been convicted of that he would have walked out of the courtroom today or very shortly after because he has been in custody over two and a half years. A sentence for involuntary manslaughter would have been served at 30% of whatever the sentence was so that was a result we couldn’t accept and didn’t think would be just,” he said.
In addition to proving premeditation, Dunaway said prosecutors had other legal hurdles to overcome in this case. For example Two days after the murder someone set fire to Crews’ Chevy Tahoe which was parked at the scene of the crime, which might have potentially destroyed evidence and affected the case. “The defense had filed a motion claiming that the case should be dismissed because the Tahoe likely had some evidentiary value to it and had been destroyed. That was a legal hurdle that had we proceeded to trial, we would have had to argue that legal issue before the court and had the state lost that issue, the case would have been dismissed and Crews would have walked out of the courtroom. Had we won that motion then we could have proceeded to trial. There were several moving parts involved in this case,” he said.

White County Crash Claims Child

A one vehicle crash in White County Saturday night claimed the life of a three year old child and injured two others
The funeral for 3 year old Klayton Alan Chapman and stillborn infant, Kolton James Chapman, sons of Cory and Tiffanie Youngblood Chapman will be Friday at 1 p.m. at DeKalb Funeral Chapel.
The accident occurred at 9:48 p.m. Saturday night on Highway 70 near mile marker 2 in White County. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, a 2011 Ford driven by a 25 year old woman of Sparta crossed the center line to the left of the roadway, went over the embankment, and struck another embankment. The vehicle came to a final rest facing east. There was no sign of braking or any attempt made to return to the roadway found at the scene. The name of the driver was not given in the THP accident report because the crash remains under investigation.
All occupants of the vehicle, the driver, the 3 year old boy, and a 10 month old girl, were transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville. The 3 year old child succumbed to his injuries there. The names of the children were not given in the accident report because they are juveniles.
The crash is being investigated by Trooper Jody Looper of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Klayton and Kolton were preceded in death by maternal grandmother, Judy Youngblood and paternal grandfather, Richard Chapman. In addition to their parents, they are survived by 1 sister, Kayleigh Chapman of Sparta and 1 half-sister, Morgan Hale of Woodbury; paternal grandmother, Connie Dodd of Woodbury; 2 uncles, Tom (Autumn) Vaughn and Chris Vaughn both of Smithville; several aunts, uncles and cousins also survive. Joint Funeral Services will be conducted 1 PM Friday, December 8, 2017 at DeKalb Funeral Chapel with Bro. Michael Hale officiating and burial will follow in DeKalb Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be given to help with cemetery costs. Visitation with the family will be on Friday 11 AM until the time of the service at 1 PM. DeKalb Funeral Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.

DeKalb Animal Shelter Off to Great Start

The first month of operation for the new DeKalb Animal Shelter has been a great success.
“We have been open for a full month now and we have had 72 cats and dogs through our shelter. We have 49 in house right now. Twenty one have been adopted as of this afternoon. We had two adoptions today,” said Megan Moore, Director of the local shelter who addressed the Smithville Mayor and Aldermen during their regular monthly meeting Monday night.
Moore said over $1,700 has been generated through the shelter and all that money goes right back into running the facility.
“We have brought in $1,708 total in the first month. We’re doing quite well and that money stays in the shelter. We pay our vet bills and any medical needs that arise and normal everyday stuff. Everything it takes to function like paper towels, cleaning agents and stuff like that. That all stays in the shelter,” said Moore.
Along with Moore, the shelter has a part time employee James Wilkerson, who are both employed by the City of Smithville. But Moore said volunteers have pitched in to help.
“Without volunteers it wouldn’t be possible for it (shelter) to function the way it does. We need volunteers during the day. There are so many things that need to be done. It takes a lot of time. Right now our part time guy, who had an accident Sunday, will be out for just a little bit but I made some phone calls this morning (Monday) and people came in and helped,” Moore continued.
In addition to volunteers, Moore said the community has also responded to the call for donations.
“I want to thank everyone for supporting us. We have had a lot of donations come in. That has been great. We have asked for cat food, dog food, puppy food, detergent for our laundry and dishwasher, people have really come through for us and helped out so much”.
Although the bricks have arrived they have not yet been placed.
“The bricks are in but are not laid. We are waiting on the weather and we’ll have to decide where they will be placed. I think they will be placed in front of the building. We’re planning to plant some crepe myrtles out there too,” Moore said.
Anyone wanting to purchase bricks to honor or remember a person, pet or to have other tributes engraved on them may do so.
“It’s an ongoing order. Anytime we get 15 or more requests for bricks we can place an order, they will ship them to us, and they will replace the plain bricks we have down. Forms are available at the shelter,” said Moore.
If you would like to volunteer or adopt a pet, especially with the Christmas holiday upcoming, you may stop by the shelter at 186 Transfer Station Road, located behind Tenneco off Highway 70 east in Smithville. The phone number is 615-597-1363.
Adoption Fees for Dogs Unaltered: $90 (includes a $50 dollar refundable spay/neuter deposit). You will be refunded the $50 dollars deposit with proof of alteration within 30 days. $40 altered Cats: $20/$30.
Moore said the shelter is planning to have adoption events soon and will have pets available during Christmas on the Square Thursday night downtown.
Pet lovers may see what the shelter has to offer on the DeKalb Animal Coalition Facebook page.
The shelter is under the operation of the DeKalb Animal Coalition, a non-profit 501 c 3 organization.

Drunk Driver Arrested with Child and Meth in Vehicle

A McMinnville man is facing several charges and citations including possession of methamphetamine after he was found driving drunk with a seven year old child in the vehicle with him.
35 year old Jonathan Tyrone Scott of Hannah Brook Circle, McMinnville is charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, sell, or possess, driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, a second offense of driving on a revoked license, and evading arrest. He was further cited for violation of the open container law, registration violation (Illegal covering of license plate), no insurance, failing to drive on the right side of the roadway, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Scott’s bond is $19,000 and his court date is December 21.
Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Thursday, November 30 a deputy spotted a white Chevy Tahoe on Corinth Road failing to stay on the right side of the road and he attempted to pull it over. As the officer turned on his emergency lights and siren, the vehicle increased speed and tried to flee placing the lives of the child, himself, the public, and the deputy in danger. The Tahoe finally stopped at Belk Grocery.
The deputy spoke with the driver (Scott), who stuttered and appeared to be very jittery. A seven year old child was in the Tahoe with Scott and the officer could smell an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. Scott submitted to but performed poorly on field sobriety tasks. He refused to give blood. A search warrant was subsequently obtained for a blood sample from him.
During an inventory search of the Tahoe, the officer found an open container of a clear liquid along with a small glass container which held small clear crystals that weighed less than 0.5 grams and field tested positive for methamphetamine. Scott said the substance was medication for his dog.
Scott’s license were found to be revoked and the Tahoe had a black piece of plastic covering the numbers on the tag, which is illegal. Scott’s license was originally suspended on December 10, 2001 in Warren County for failure to pay an original violation. He has a prior offense for driving while revoked in Warren County on January 5, 2015.