The Stewart Co. Sheriff's Office (SCSO) has received many complaints of motorists illegally passing school buses. Sheriff Frankie Gray and his deputies have been riding buses and following in unmarked vehicles. The SCSO will stop and cite all motorists in violation of TCA 55-8-151, passing a school bus. Under this statute, "The driver of a vehicle upon a highway, upon meeting or overtaking from either direction any school bus that has stopped on the highway for the purpose of receiving or discharging any school children, shall stop before reaching the school bus and the driver shall not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or is signaled by the school bus driver to proceed or the visual signals are no longer activated." The driver of a vehicle upon a highway with separate roadways need not stop upon meeting and/or passing a school bus that is on a different roadway. A roadway with a median is considered a separate highway. Fine for passing a school bus unloading and/or loading is $250 plus court costs. The SCSO will continue to watch and monitor the buses to ensure our children and motorist safety.
Derek E. Summers, Mindy Elaine Harris of Woodlawn and Kirby Wallace appeared in Circuit Court in Stewart Co., Monday morning January 14 before Judge Larry Wallace. Harris was represented by attorney Chris Clark, and Summers by attorney Chad Cox. Wallace was represented by attorney Tim Potter. All attorneys waived formal reading of the indictments, entered not guilty pleas, and a court date was set, "for review, possible motions and setting a trial date," according to Judge Wallace for all involved. Date was set for July 24 at 1 pm. During the Kirby Wallace manhunt of 2018, which crossed back and forth from Stewart to Montgomery Counties, many speculated that Wallace must be having help, and perhaps someone was aiding him in alluding police. According to an email received by the TBI, "On September 23, at the request of District Attorney General Ray Crouch, TBI Agents and deputies from the sheriff's office began investigating a homicide that had occurred on Rorie Hollow Road in Indian Mound. During the course of the investigation, agents developed information that stolen property from the homicide was located at the Woodlawn residence of Summers and Harris. The investigation further revealed that Wallace had been at the couple's residence sometime after the homicide had occurred." Both Summers and Harris were charged with accessory after the fact, and were indicted on, "unlawfully, feloniously and with knowledge or reasonable grounds to believe that Kirby Gene Wallace had committed a felony, and with the intent to hinder the arrest, trial, conviction or punishment, did harbor or conceal Wallace." The charge is a Class E Felony.
The Standard learned a body was found early Friday morning, January 11, near the Montgomery Farmers CO-OP Dover Branch. Dover Police Chief Kim Wallace said, "The deceased was a white male with no visible signs of trauma and there was no reason for the public to be concerned." EMS Director Greg Barrow stated the deceased was a 57 year old male and was found in the creek bed between the CO-OP and Workforce Essentials by a girl walking to the bus. He said the call came into to EMS about 6:30 this morning. "There were no signs of trauma but since it was an unattended death with no witnesses who have come forward, we have sent the body off for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death. He was last seen on video in the CO-OP parking lot at 5:07 pm Thursday, January 10," said Barrow. Employees at the CO-OP said the man was seen frequently walking through the area and lived nearby. The name has not been released.
When Stewart County locals think of Land Between the Lakes, we don't think of facilities, we think of the massive wooded area that runs between Barkley and Kentucky Lake in Stewart Co. up to the Ky. State line. LBL is not closed, as some may think. There has been some confusion in our county and surrounding areas after some media reports. While the Government shutdown has closed buildings usually staffed during normal business hours, like the Welcome Stations, The Homeplace 1850's Farm, Golden Pond Visitors Center with the Planetarium and Nature Station, and Piney Campground, LBL is open. It's open for hunting, hiking and driving through. The Bison can still be seen and you can enjoy nature all you want. All main roads are open, just take your trash with you. The Standard has been informed that all facilities and administrative offices are closed but the US Forest Service Law Enforcement is still working in the area, since they are considered essential Government workers.
The 2018 Wreaths Across America Ceremony at Ft. Donelson National Cemetery was held, Sat., Dec. 15. Rain had cleared out and it was dry and sunny by noon for the 3rd annual event. The crowd was estimated at around 200 and there were a record number, 810 Wreaths donated to be placed on headstones. American Legion Dover Post 72 Commander, Don L. Bailey, Jr. opened the ceremony, stating, "Thank you to our distinguished guests and visitors and a special thank you to the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Assoc. TN., Chapter 18, AT&T Veterans TN Chapter, American Heritage Girls Troop TN 1412, and my fellow Legion Post 72/Unit 72 Auxiliary." Bailey then introduced Park Superintendent Brian McCutchen, had everyone rise for the Colors, National Anthem, invocation and pause in memory of service members. Before the many volunteers came to get a wreath to place on one of the more than 1,700 headstones in the National Cemetery, he said, "We understand we have Veterans Day in the fall and Memorial Day in the spring, but our service members sacrifice their time and safety every single day of the year to preserve our freedoms. In many homes, there is an empty seat for one who is serving or one who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country." Bailey paused, becoming visibly shaken at the thought. He then concluded by saying, "The 2020 goal is to be able to place a wreath at all 1,736 veterans' markers, fulfilling 100% coverage, and leaving none uncovered. Each wreath is a gift of appreciation, from a grateful America."
Stewart County was rocked March 2, 2005, when teenager Jason Clinard shot and killed beloved SC bus driver Joyce Gregory in Cumberland City. March 2, 2019, will mark the 14 year anniversary of the horrific incident, which still burns in the minds of Stewart County school students, staff, and community. Clinard, now 28, is serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder. According to District Attorney General Ray Crouch, after federal appeals were denied, "Clinard then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (federal appellate court) pursuing the claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his juvenile transfer hearing. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held, 'because there is a reasonable probability that Clinard would not have been transferred to adult court absent his counsel's ineffective assistance, Clinard is entitled to a new transfer hearing.'" Crouch added, "The Federal District Court will now conduct a new juvenile transfer hearing, if adequate grounds are found to transfer Clinard to adult court, this will presumably conclude the appellate process and the conviction and sentence will stand. However, if the Federal District Court determines that Clinard should not be transferred, the convictions could be set aside."
This case sets a precedent in our area in two ways: Stewart County was the first county in the nation to experience a bus driver being killed by a student... ever. As reported in the January 30, 2018 edition of the Standard,
Stewart Co. High School Rebel Golfer, Billy Atkins, signed to play Golf at Bethel University, Friday, November 30. He is only the second SCHS Rebel to ever sign to play golf in college. Bethel Head Golf Coach, Larry Geraldi, came for the signing ceremony held in the library at SCHS. Rebel Head Golf Coach Nick Wallace, Principal Ben Duncan, Schools Director Leta Joiner, some SCHS students, Atkins parents, Willie and Donna Atkins and his swing coach, Mitchell Moore, from Hopkinsville, Ky. were also in attendance. I asked Moore about how hard it is working with a high school students swing since they are still growing? He said, "That's a good point because their golf swing is changing. I've been working with him for about three years. He hits the ball pretty hard and solid, so his struggle won't be as hard in college." Wallace, who helped start a golf program at the middle school, said about Billy, "I started working with him when he was in the sixth grade and we had just started a golf program at the middle school. Billy has went to state the last two years. We sent out some videos, info, ACT scores and stuff like that before school started. Within a few days he had six or seven showing interest. He has a high GPA and ACT scores, so he's going to get some golf money, but he's also going to get a lot of academic money." Wallace said with Jacob Rose going there and it being close to home he chose Bethel. Rose signed in March to play basketball for Bethel and Wallace was there as the Head Basketball coach for SCHS. Wallace also said Atkins liked that Bethel uses Paris Landing Golf Course as one of their home courses and that's where Atkins practices. Geraldi said he liked Atkins work ethic and saw him play against and beat his grandsons at Waverly. "I saw Billy play for seven years. He is a good Christian individual with good academics, good work ethic, he's a good golfer and a good person. Golf is important, but those other things are more important, which is why we were interested in Billy," said Geraldi. Duncan and Joiner spoke about how proud they were. Atkins said, "I played on and off with dad and picked it up and knew I wanted to play competitively through the school." Atkins dad, Willie, said in a middle school match, he was driving it 240 and 260 in sixth and seventh grade and averages right at 300 yards now. Billy said his dad wasn't much competition now. We wish him well.
The Stewart Co. Chamber of Commerce selected Dunning Cheatham as the Grand Marshal for this year's Christmas Parade. He is the owner of Cheatham's TV and Furniture on the square in Dover, since 1951. He can often be seen crossing Hwy. 79 in the square to eat lunch at the Dover Grille. Owner John Wilson said, "Dunning came in the first day we opened 23 years ago. He said, 'You ain't got a hamburger steak on the menu? You won't be open long. I added one soo after." Cheatham was the Mayor of Dover in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Parade starts at 2 pm, Sat., Dec. 1, starting on Church Street, passing Dover City Hall, to the light in Dover and then down Spring Street, ending at SC Middle School. This year's theme is "Winter Wonderland". If the parade is canceled for rain Sat., it will be held Sun., Dec. 2, starting at 2 pm. We will post on the Standard Facebook page by noon Sat. if moved to Sun. After the parade, check out the Open House for the Annual Christmas Trees Display at WD Sykes Museum at 174 Church St. Dover. The theme is "A Walk Down Memory Lane- The Sequel". Open House is Sat., Dec. 1 and Sun., Dec. 2 from 1-5pm. The display is open Fridays-Sundays, Dec. 7- Jan. 7, from 10 am- 5 pm.
A murder trial was held in Stewart Co. Circuit Court, Tues., Nov. 13 through Thurs., Nov. 15. The sequestered jury found Gerald Lovelace guilty of First Degree Murder, on three counts, in perpetration of a robbery, aggravated burglary, and theft. The charges stemmed from the death of Donnie Cooksey, found dead in his home in Cumberland City from a gunshot wound on June 7, 2016. John Curtis Perry, Sr., and Ashley Nicole Hankins, two of the five defendants originally charged, were found guilty of the same charges, Fri., Sept. 28. A conviction for first degree murder carries an automatic and mandatory life sentence. Abdullah Powell, the only defendant not convicted in the case, is scheduled to go to trial in Stewart Co., in February. Powell and Lovelace, both of Clarksville, were arrested, Tues., March 28, 2017, by TBI Special Agents. Amy Hankins, Ashley's sister, pled to Facilitation of Second Degree Murder, Aug. 21, 2018. She was sentenced to eight years and called as a witness against the others.
Accused murderer Kirby Wallace appeared in Judge Andy Brigham's Stewart County General Sessions Court for a preliminary hearing at 2:30 pm today, Tuesday, November 6. Defense lawyer for Wallace was Tim Potter and District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. presented for the State against Wallace, accused in the death of Stewart Co. woman Brenda Smith, who died Sunday, Sept. 23. Wallace's charges include first degree murder, attempted first degree murder along with especially aggravated burglary, kidnapping and arson charges.
Her husband Teddy Smith took the stand first. Crouch asked Smith about that day, when they came home early from church to celebrate he and his mother's birthday. Smith was visibly shaken when recounting the day. He said, "Me and Brenda went home early from church. It was my birthday and my mother's was on the 18th, we were going to my sisters in Clarksville to celebrate." Crouch asked what happened when they got home and said, "Brenda got out and I walked around the car, Brenda was in front of me going up the ramp, he opened the door, grabbed her, and said, if you give me any trouble I'll slit her throat. We walked in and I grabbed him around the neck and was punching him and he stabbed me in the side."
While choking back tears, Smith said Wallace tied both of them up. "He done got me in a closet and tied my feet up with some kind of extension cord and pulled them up to my belt." Smith said he could hear Wallace going through the house while he was in the closet and his wife was tied up on the bed. He said Wallace came back and raked a knife across his throat. "When he came back in he shot me and I was hit on the side of my eye there. Right before he shot. When he went back out Brenda said, 'Teddy he's gonna kill us', she said, 'I love you,' I said, I love you too." At that point he was having a hard time recounting the terror he and his wife experienced in the sanctity and expected safety of their home. "I never heard no more out of her. He told Brenda he was going to burn us." Smith said Wallace poured some rubbing alcohol mixed with lotion for arthritis out on the floor and set it on fire. Then he hit Smith in the head. Crouch had him point out the scar on his head from being hit with a metal object. Smith said he had to have a plate put in his head. He said he could see Wallace start a fire by the doorway from the closet where he was tied up. He also said apparently he had set other rooms on fire. He said, "I heard him leave and I had to get out to get to my son Edward, and I could barely see the front door. Edward could barely get inside the house because of the fire.
One of the last things the DA asked Smith was, "Do you know who did this to you?" Smith said, "Kirby Wallace." Then he pointed him out in the courtroom. When asked if Smith knew him from before, he said his mother and father used to run a grocery store and he remembered years ago, Wallace and his family would get groceries at the store. Wallaces Attorney Potter asked him many of the same questions in different ways and asked if Smith needed a break. He said no, but was obviously upset about the line of questioning about the timeline of events from Potter. We will have more about the cross examination in next week's Standard.
Next, Crouch called 87 year old Clarksville woman Sarah Neblett to the stand. She said she came home from a church service on Thursday afternoon, September 27 and Wallace came up to her after she opened her garage door and forced her inside. She said he told her he hadn't eaten in three days and needed something to eat and drink. She said he was at her house for about four hours and he got nervous after her home phone rang about 7 that night. Neblett said, "He looked around my house and found a 22 rifle and loaded it. He told me, 'I done killed two people.' If you do what I tell you I won't hurt you." She said she was finally able to get loose from the electrical cord she was tied up with but was afraid he was still in the house asleep and so she waited until daylight to call for help. The last thing Crouch asked her was after she pointed to Wallace, "Is this the man who tied you up, broke into your house, ate your food, told you he killed two people?" She answered, "That's right. That's him." Potter had a very short cross examination. She said she lived on River Rd.
The State rested, the defense didn't call any witnesses. Potter asked for Wallace to be returned to the Stewart Co. jail. Judge Brigham said, "There's probable cause to believe these crimes occurred and the defendant committed these crimes. The charges will be bound over to the January term of the Grand Jury." He ruled, there will be no bond on the capital charges 1 and 2. Total bond on non-capital charges including especially aggravated kidnapping, burglary, robbery, and arson totaled $1.4 million. Wallace's lawyer asked for the placement of the defendant to be in Stewart Co. Potter said, "The order said the sheriff has concern about an escape risk. I think the officers here are competent enough to hold him and I think this jail is secure enough to hold him unless the sheriff thinks they can't do it, which is curious that he would believe that." He asked the defendant be held in Stewart Co. or somewhere closer. Crouch said, "It's a question of how many resources have to be used to hold this defendant and keep him and other inmates safe." Brigham said it wasn't his authority but he would request an assessment from Sheriff Gray.
There has been a lot of talk in our community over the past couple of years about the possibility of Broadband access, or lack thereof. Currently, it's very limited in availability and even the highest speeds are not very fast. We pay for the highest available at the Standard office and it is limited and slows to a crawl periodically. There are a few lucky ones, in Dover, and the school system who have high speed internet, but it's just not affordable or available for the majority of Stewart County.
The Standard reported on a company bringing fiber optic cable through the county in January of 2017, turned out, they were just laying fiber optic to tie together their existing network from Nashville, TN to Fulton, KY and it wasn't available to anyone here. Then in April of 2017, we reported, "The TN House passed the Broadband Accessibility Act which removed restrictions that prevented electric cooperatives from providing retail internet access. CEMC said at the time in an official statement, "CEMC's staff and board will need to carefully evaluate the law and financial feasibility. If CEMC elects to build a broadband network, it will be expensive and financing would be a major hurdle for the project." The law doesn't allow co-ops to use revenue from the sale of electricity to build its broadband network. So, CEMC couldn't use the more than 13 million in revenue it has made this year, according to their . They also said in their statement then, "Planning, engineering and construction could take months or years to complete.
Julie Wallace, CEMC Communications Coordinator stated in an email to the Standard, "CEMC is exploring options for providing broadband services to its membership. We have hired consultants to conduct feasibility studies for deploying fiber to our members' homes, and the results of those studies have been submitted to our audit firm for evaluation. We will discuss options with our attorneys and will continue to explore options concerning financing and grants available for broadband services. We will also research ways to gauge member interest." The Stewart Co. Commission has a Broadband Committee meeting scheduled for Monday night, Oct. 29, 7 pm at the Public Library. Wallace told us when asked, "Our general manager is planning to attend the broadband meeting Monday, but I do not have any additional information about the meeting. As far as how we want our members to contact us about their interest in broadband, we are still considering options." Stephen E. Douglass of Dover was recently elected unopposed for a fourth term as director for South Stewart County on the CEMC Board of Directors. We talked to him last week and he said, "I am confident the work CEMC is doing means they are taking this seriously. The plans they have would be fiber optic door to door in Stewart Co. It would be strung on poles CEMC has now. The studies CEMC is doing would make the broadband offering faster than anything here now." From my understanding, basically, if you have electricity you could have access but it is still very early in the process. We will have more on the committee meeting in next week's Standard.
THE STEWART COUNTY HOMICIDE SUSPECT KIRBY WALLACE, ON THE TBI'S TOP TEN MOST WANTED LIST IS IN CUSTODY!!! According to Stewart Co. Sheriff Frankie Gray, he was taken into custody near Hayes Ridge Rd. in the new perimeter in Stewart County. He has been on the run since Sunday, Sept. 23 after being suspected of killing Brenda Smith in Indian Mound. We have heard he was taken into custody by Henry Co. Sheriff Monte Belew but that is unconfirmed. What is confirmed is THEY GOT HIM!!
Just got off the phone with Stewart Co. Sheriff Frankie Gray, he was finally able to get some sleep and is heading back to the command outpost in Montgomery Co. in the massive manhunt for Kirby Wallace in the woods near the Stewart/Montgomery Co. line. He wanted to let people know in Stewart Co., they have always maintained a command post at Seven Mile Ridge and Honey Fork Rd. in Indian Mound. Gray said, "We're holding down that area over there in case he's spotted outside the perimeter in Montgomery Co. We are searching areas outside their perimeter, especially on the Stewart Co. side. I have a group and we are checking Caves, Duck Blinds, and Cabins. I want the people in Indian Mound to know we are still over there for them to keep them protected just in case. We're holding what we have over there."
Montgomery Co. has their own perimeter and command post. Gray also wanted to let people in Stewart County know the rest of the county is covered as well and emphasize, they will be protected. "Cumberland City is helping us, Dover, a crew from Coopertown, the THP and others, with normal patrol duties in the County. They will answer calls." Gray wanted to let people know, if you need police help it will be available in the county, it just may be from another agency. "We still have to answer calls. I can't neglect servicing people that call in from anywhere in Stewart Co. if law enforcement shows up, it may not be a Stewart Co. Sheriff Deputy."
Gray said he was confident, anything Wallace has on him would more than likely have been carried by hand after he ditched the truck at the dead end of Frankie Rd. in Montgomery Co. He believes he is still on foot and in the area. "We are still searching outside the perimeter in Montgomery Co. We maintained that command post since Saturday at Seven Mile Ridge Rd. and Honey Fork in Indian Mound, that is outside the perimeter area set up by Montgomery Co." People in the area still need to be on the lookout and take extra precaution. He explained, the way the perimeter works is it is surrounded by a circle of officers, with teams being sent in to search. They are still looking in other areas.
Fri., Sept. 28, Kirby Wallace, who attended SCHS in 1981, was named the suspect in the attack of a couple in Indian Mound. The incident happened Sunday, September 23, on Rorie Hollow Rd. after they came home from church. The attack left beloved long time resident Brenda Smith dead, and her husband Teddy Smith in serious condition. The home was set on fire and their car stolen, a black Chrysler 300. Wallace had warrants out for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, arson and aggravated kidnapping and robbery. Most everyone in Stewart Co. figured he was probably long gone, that is until word broke in a big way Sat., Sept. 29, Wallace was seen crossing the Cumberland City Ferry back into Indian Mound. He was in a stolen vehicle from Clarksville, that was connected with a home invasion burglary Thursday night on River Road, where he allegedly tied up an 83-year old woman and held her at gunpoint. Ferry Deckhand Brandon Wright said Wallace came onto the ferry, and was driving a 2013 Silver Ford Fusion, and that Captain Brian Patterson called authorities. Wright said, "He asked me how my day was, I charged him, he gave me a tip and then he asked me if I wanted a sausage biscuit." Wright did not take the biscuit. "I didn't trust him," Wright said. He said he was sure it was Wallace. "I had four cops come by yesterday (Friday, Sept. 28). They gave me pictures, they gave me information on the vehicle he could be in, and license plate number. As soon as he got on, I recognized the license plate number, and my Captain said he was pretty sure it was the guy. We let him on. We did a detour instead of crossing in three minutes like we normally do. We took him up river and back down river. It took about 13 minutes to get across. We did it on purpose. The closest responder was 18 miles out, and they asked us to try and stall." Wright said when they went to let Wallace off, he started acting strange. "He was reaching in the back of his car a lot, and all I saw was a handle of some type of object. I didn't know if it was a knife, gun, but he was touching something in the back of the car. The Captain told me to hurry and let him off, so something bad wouldn't happen. I opened the gate, let him off and following that was cop after cop, taking them over there," Wright said. He went on to say he'd been in contact with law enforcement and at that time (about 10 am Saturday morning) Wallace was "cornered in the woods" on the Indian Mound side of the river. "He totaled his car about five minutes after we let him off. They blue lighted him, chased him, he wrecked, and he's on foot," Wright explained.As we finished with Wright, State Trooper Wilkins arrived to cross the river to respond to the call to assist. "I actually work Humphreys and Dickson County, and they've dispatched me over here," he said. As of press time, Monday, October 1, Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray, who has been sheriff for only 30 days, said by phone he was still on the run about 2-2.5 miles from where he originally crashed the vehicle and fled in Indian Mound. He is also suspected to have killed a man on Welker Rd. off Poplar Springs Rd. in Montgomery Co. and stole his truck. "We got a call at approximately 9 am this morning that the suspect we were looking for was walking down the road by the Old Ridge Market near the Deepwoods Subdivision in Montgomery Co. We got to the scene and then got a call there was a shooting and a truck stolen nearby. We went to the address on Welker Rd. off Poplar Springs Rd. and found a man laying in the yard, who had been shot and was deceased. The truck was found ditched on Frankie Rd. about a mile and a half from where the murder occurred and about three miles from our original Command Post," said Gray. He added, "He got about a 30-45 minute jump on us, not sure of the direction he went. We will continue saturating Indian Mound and this area until he is caught. We are working with FBI, TBI, Montgomery County Sheriffs Office, THP, TWRA and Henry County Sheriffs Office." According to Gray, they have not located the original Chrysler 300 stolen from the first murder scene and the area of the second murder was about 2 to 2.5 miles through the woods from where they first encountered Wallace Saturday. Churches cancelled services in Indian Mound Sunday, Parks and Schools cancelled all after school activities in Stewart Co. Monday night, and buses did not travel into Indian Mound. This one man has devastated and disrupted so many lives we pray he is caught soon. Law enforcement is working tirelessly to find him before he hurts anyone else.
As of Wednesday, October 3, 5:00 PM, he is reportedly surrounded by Swat Officers in a wooded area off Welker Rd. in the Woodlawn area.
We spoke with Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray, about 10 am this morning and he said, "We are still actively searching for him (Fugitive Kirby Wallace, wanted for murder in last Sunday's attack in Indian Mound on Rorie Hollow rd.) in the Honey Fork, Moore Hollow roads area. We have no reason to believe that he has gotten out of area and are running down leads. I would advise everyone to go about their activities but just do not leave their vehicles or homes unsecured. I ask them to be vigilant and call us on anything that is suspicious. He could be in undergrowth or under something not moving. He could have gotten out of the area but I don't know how, I have reason to believe he is not wearing shoes." We know and have heard from many people in the Indian Mound area and they had a sleepless night, to say the least. We know for sure, one Church, Dunbar's Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, at 2775 Hwy. 46 in Indian Mound cancelled their services out of precaution today. They are located very near the search area and according to Sonny Webb, all Deacon's agreed it would be best. They are close to the Cumberland City Ferry, where the wanted fugitive, Kirby Gene Wallace, a white male, 5'9" 160 lbs., 53 yrs. of age, was spotted crossing into the Indian Mound area. He wrecked a stolen vehicle yesterday and fled on foot. Officers from many different agencies searched throughout the night. I believe we can say with confidence, there will be many people in Stewart County and many other places praying to God for the people in Indian Mound and for law enforcement to apprehend Wallace. He is wanted in the murder which occurred last Sunday about 11:30 am in Indian Mound after Brenda Smith and her husband returned from church nearby and were attacked and their home burnt. Please be aware and be on the lookout but don't let the evil act of one deranged individual grip you with fear. They will find him.
Two of the five defendants originally charged with the murder of Cumberland City man, Donnie Cooksey, were found guilty in Stewart Co. Circuit Court, Friday, September 28, just before noon. According to court documents obtained by the Standard, John Curtis Perry, Sr., and Ashley Nicole Hankins were both found guilty of First Degree Murder, on three counts, in perpetration of a robbery, aggravated burglary, and theft. A jury was sequestered all this week for the trial. A pool of more than 100 Stewart County jurors had to report to court Monday morning. They were sent out a phone message on Friday, Sept. 21, from Court Clerk Jason Wallace stating, "Please pack a bag with enough essential items for five days. If selected as a juror, you will not be able to return home until the end of the trial. No cell phones or any electronic devices are allowed. You may bring non-electronic items such as a book to read." Wallace said it took all day Monday, Sept. 24 to seat a jury and the State presented starting Tuesday morning and rested on Thursday, Sept. 27. The defense presented and rested the same day, both sides gave closing arguments and final instructions were given to the jury. The jury returned on Friday and read the verdict. 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ray Crouch Jr. said, "A conviction for first degree murder carries an automatic and mandatory life sentence. The judge announced the sentence immediately following the guilty verdicts returned by the jury. "
The Standard has reported on this case since Cooksey was found dead in his home in Cumberland City from a gunshot wound on June 7, 2016. We reported in April of 2017, two Clarksville men, Abdullah Powell, and Gerald Lovelace were arrested, Tuesday, March 28, 2017 by TBI Special Agents. The next day, TBI Agents arrested three more people and charged them with murder. Ashley Hankins of Erin and John Curtis Perry of Clarksville were arrested. A fifth person, Amy Hankinswas served the warrant in the Montgomery County Jail. All five were charged with First Degree Murder. Warrants revealed the two Hankins sisters were responsible for soliciting the robbery of Cooksey and Perry was also in awhite pickup truck at the scene. Crouch said, "Lovelace and Powell are both going to trial in November. Amy Hankins plead to Facilitation of Second Degree Murder on August 21, 2018. She was sentenced to eight years to serve and was called as a witness against Perry and Ashley Hankins. She will also be called as a witness in the trials of Powell and Lovelace."
The close knit Indian Mound community came together Monday night at Indian Mound United Methodist Church with family and friends from all over our county to try and make sense of a senseless tragedy. They needed to be allowed to grieve, which is why the Standard didn't cover the Prayer Vigil. We pray for the families directly affected by this horrible tragedy and all Stewart County, as we are not accustomed to such acts of evil. We have to be aware though, the world has changed. This county will forever be changed and we pray law enforcement will be able to arrest the person or persons responsible, but we still need to be on guard. We all have only one hope and it rests in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. In Psalm 97:10, God's Word says, Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked. We must pray for all involved in this tragedy. Our souls are what will outlast the evil of this earth if we come to faith in Christ. May God Bless those in Indian Mound hurting from this tragedy and may they turn to Him in this time of desperation.
This is a picture of the actual vehicle stolen from a residence on Rorie Hollow Rd. in Indian Mound, TN, today after a homicide. According to early reports, one person was killed and one injured between 11am- 12 noon, after interrupting a burglary. According to Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray, the suspect in the crime set the house on fire and fled in the vehicle, a 2005 Black Chrysler 300 with TN tags 477-MBC. The suspect description is that of a white male, approximately 5'6"-5'7" tall, with thinning hair. We have heard reports from some in the community, the couple had left church early, came home and were attacked by an intruder. Please help law enforcement find this vehicle and suspect.
We received news this afternoon of a confirmed homicide in Indian Mound sometime between 11 am and 12 noon. According to Stewart County Sheriff Frankie Gray, it appears from first indications, two people at a home in Indian Mound interrupted a burglary in process and were attacked by the intruder who also set the house on fire before fleeing the scene. One of the victims has died at the scene and one has been transported to the hospital. Gray said police are on the lookout for a 2005 Black Chrysler 300 with TN tags 477-MBC. The initial suspect description is of a white male, approximately 5'6"-5'7" tall with thinning hair. If you see the vehicle or have any information police ask you call 911.
Stewart County Sheriff's Department Deputies confiscated five large, mature marijuana plants and one immature potted plant at a home Tuesday evening, September 11. According to Sergeant Ryan Goldsmith, the Sheriff's Department received a report of a wanted person spotted at a residence on Walker Ridge Rd. in Big Rock, TN. Three officers went to investigate and when on the porch of the home, smelled marijuana. "We saw the potted plant on the porch and the five large plants close to the home growing with tomato plants in plain sight. The homeowner admitted they were his," said Goldsmith. There was also an undisclosed amount of cash confiscated. 58 year old Micheal Edward Hollingsworth was arrested and booked into the Stewart Co. Jail on the charge of Manufacture/Delivery/Sell of a Controlled Substance. Stewart Co. Sheriff Frankie Gray said, "This was good work by three veteran officers. It is an example of proactive police work which is what we have to have to attack the drug problems in this county."
There has been much commentary and opinion in our county and community about the Standard reporting of a school system principal being fired. This Editorial is in response to some of the comments. Some questioned why it was a news story at all. We reported what the school system decided based on what the Director of Stewart County Schools told the Standard. We have four schools in this county with four principals; one was fired for conduct unbecoming. An appointed principal being fired was news, whatever the reason. We had heard many rumors but didn't publish them, only verifiable and confirmed statements. The story was out there and many didn't know the whole story or the truth but commented on social media as though they did. The definition of gossip is, "Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true."
Elected officials and those appointed to be in charge of others in this county can expect a higher level of scrutiny, especially those involved in the school system, working with our children. I am not passing judgement but stating fact. "We all sin and fall short of the Glory of God," as the Bible states. Lord knows I've committed my share of sin. I have repented of my past sins and asked Christ to guide me from here on out, which is what I'm trying to do daily. Anyone can receive the same forgiveness from God. We should expect a higher moral standard from those in authority and in the public eye, including myself. Lack of personal responsibility for our actions, I believe, is partly where some of the problems stem in our society today.
The biggest differences in this case, of two adults reportedly having an affair, is one involved was an administrator, and both work with children. We can't expect our children to have high moral character if we're not setting the example as adults.If the school system had not released the information, they may have been accused of covering up a scandal, as many had already commented on social media. Sometimes, the truth is, an organization can't release someone's name or any more information based on the advice of attorneys. So many jump to conclusions or assume, and that's where rumors get out of hand and are believed to be fact. God is the ultimate judge of each one of us individually, but our actions affect others as well. As long as the Standard is published we will strive to report and not shy away from the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or trivial it may be to some.
According to Stewart County Director of Schools, Leta Joiner, Andy Luton has been officially removed as the principal of Stewart Co. Middle School as of Monday, Aug. 20. The investigation is still ongoing Joiner said, but the job will be posted starting Tuesday, Aug. 21 for 15 days. Assistant Principal Donna Gillum is now the acting principal. Luton has been on administrative leave. Joiner said, "We still have to present the findings of the investigation to the School Board at the next regularly scheduled meeting and I can't discuss details. He's a tenured teacher and any action has to go before the board." There is a new member on the board, Gary Dacus, who won't be officially seated until next month. Joiner added, "The Conduct Unbecoming investigation does not involve students in any way and is not a criminal investigation." We will have more details when they become available, and have heard many rumors but the Standard will not print unsubstantiated rumors. It was confirmed today, the allegations state he had a sexual affair with a teacher under his direct supervision at the Middle School.
According to the Stewart County Sheriff's office, a bus was hit by a service truck Monday morning, August 13, on Hwy. 139 at the KY state line. Trigg Co. assisted with stopping traffic while THP worked the accident. The bus had just started its route. School's Director Leta Joiner said, "A truck hit Bus #31. No one was hurt. Only the driver's grandchildren were on board." A new bus got students to school only about 35 minutes late.
We confirmed the tragic news today, a child died from a gunshot wound Saturday in Stewart County. A call came in to SC E911, Saturday, August 4, the caller stated a four or five year old female had been shot in the shoulder, in the 400 block of Hwy. 120, Big Rock. An ambulance was requested to the residence around 7:30 pm, and the SC Sheriff's Office, SC EMS, & SCFR responded. According to Stewart Co. Sheriff's Investigator Jody Batton, he and Investigator Dana Saltkill were called to the residence late Saturday evening to investigate a report of a five year old girl who had been accidentally shot. Batton said when Saltkill arrived on the scene it appeared to be an accidental shooting. The girl was transported to Tennova by SCEMS and was pronounced dead at the hospital. There are no charges pending at this time. Our prayers go out to the family. This incident should be a reminder to everyone to always be aware and responsible when handling or possessing firearms.
A large crowd of Stewart County residents gathered in front of the Election Commission Office to hear results of the election. First, about 7:45, Chrystal Selph Perigo and Ethan Luffman announced early voting numbers for each category. These numbers have not been certified and the precincts numbers were coming in as the early numbers were being announced. In the most contested local races, for Mayor, Robin Brandon received 715 early votes, Gerald Campbell-549, Van Herndon-516, Rick Joiner-710 and David Ross-201. In the Assessor of Property race, Darrell Howell received 359 early votes, Tim Mounts-472, and Martha Earhart Wallace-1,788. In the closely watched Sheriff Race, Frankie Gray received 1,629 early votes and Marc A. McElroy-1,054. Mary K. Templon received 624 votes in the Circuit Court Clerk race and incumbent Jason Wallace received 2,030 in early voting. All votes will be in later but won't be certified until next week. In the local House of Representatives race for the 75th District, Bruce Griffey received 1,004, with Tim Wirgau receiving 674 votes in Stewart County in early voting. The Stewart County Election Commission will have final unofficial results posted soon.
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