Local News Articles

Motorist Swerves to Miss Deer but Runs through Fence at Nursery

October 22, 2010
Dwayne Page
Truck Runs off Road and Knocks down Gate and Fence at Nursery

An 18 year old motorist, who swerved to miss a deer, went off the road and through a fence at Harney's Nursery Friday morning on South Congress Boulevard.

Central dispatch received the call at 5:08 a.m.

Sergeant Joey Jones of the Smithville Police Department reports that Seth E. Braseel was driving north in a 1996 Ford F-15 when a deer ran out in front of him. Braseel said he didn't know if he hit the deer but to try to swerve to miss it, he did leave the roadway and knocked down a gate and about 30 feet of fence at Harney's Nursery, driving through some mums and shrubs.

Braseel was injured and reportedly transported by DeKalb EMS to DeKalb Community Hospital.

State Parole Board Members Recommend that Bounds Be Denied Release from Prison

October 21, 2010
Dwayne Page
Gerald (J.B.) Bounds
Members of Sherman Wright Family
State Parole Board Members Address J.B. Bounds by Videoconference
Sherman Wright (Photo from 1972, age 19)

63 year old Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville may have to serve at least two more years in prison before being eligible for another parole hearing.

Two members of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, Yusuf Hakeem and Charles Taylor, said Thursday they would recommend to fellow board members that Bounds be denied parole due to the seriousness of the offense in the 1981 fatal shooting of 27 year old Sherman Wright of DeKalb County. If at least four members of the board vote to concur with the recommendation, Bounds will not be eligible for parole again until 2012.

The hearing was held at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where Bounds is incarcerated.
Bounds is serving a life sentence for the first degree premeditated killing of Wright, who was shot once in the head just outside the Odyssey Arcade on West Broad Street, across from the Dairy Queen. The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 2nd, 1981, allegedly over a gambling debt. The game room no longer exists. The building now serves as the location for the Discount Tobacco Outlet. Had Wright survived, he would have turned 57 years old on Monday, October 25th

Bounds was found guilty of first degree murder by a DeKalb County Circuit Court Jury following a trial in October 1981 and he has been in prison since, having served 29 years and eight months.

Bounds has been up for parole twice, in September 2002 and again in August 2005. This was his third parole hearing.

Hakeem and Taylor, the two members of the parole board conducting the hearing, were not at the prison. They presided by video conference, hearing from Bounds, two members of his family, and a member of the Wright family.

In reading the record on Bounds, Hakeem noted that "as a juvenile we have no criminal activity listed on your part. As an adult, there was a misdemeanor for reckless operation of a motor vehicle. As a felony, no other items are listed."

Bounds is a high school graduate and he attended Martin College and MTSU. Prior to the shooting, Bounds occupations included accounting and office work, and he served as a night club manager and insurance file clerk.

While in prison, Hakeem mentioned that Bounds has been involved in various educational classes and occupations. "As far as program participation, he has been a teacher's aide, landscape gardener, in the HVAC refrigeration class, carpenter class, computer literacy class, and anger management class."

Bounds is considered a minimum level trustee and during the course of his incarceration he has been involved in two disciplinary issues, the last being in August, 1998, although neither Hakeem nor Taylor mentioned what they were.

According to Hakeem, Bounds received no letters of support for his release on parole but there have been several letters filed in opposition.

Bounds admitted to shooting Wright but he insisted that it was unintentional. In fact, Bounds said he did not expect to see Wright that day, but ran into him while at the game room, where he had stopped to see someone else. "When I went there that day, I didn't even know he was there. At trial there was testimony that someone had dropped him off there. The only reason I stopped was because I saw a friend of mine's vehicle. I pulled in directly behind his vehicle. I didn't know I was even going to see him that day."

Bounds said when he saw Wright he asked to speak with him and they got into an argument. "I did ask to talk to him. He was the one who started outside and I just followed him. He stopped and talked to Ms. (Mary) Mabe at the door and I just proceeded on by him. Actually I was just going to talk to him there. We got outside and we did argue. I thought he was going to draw a weapon on me. I had a weapon. I swung at him but I missed. He stepped back and put his hands in his pocket. I drew my weapon. When he didn't draw a weapon, I was going to hit him with mine (weapon). He reached up and grabbed (the gun). I evidently had my finger on the trigger. Anyway I did shoot him. When Ms Mabe came out I asked her to call an ambulance." Bounds then got in his car and drove to McMinnville where he turned himself in to authorities."

Parole board member Taylor then asked Bounds why he had a gun that day. "I carried a weapon. I operated a business and the (Warren County) sheriff had told me he had heard rumors that I was going to be robbed so I bought a pistol and I just carried it. It's not a good thing but it's the truth."

In making his emotional plea for release, Bounds said " Well I've done a lot of years. Of course, it was a terrible thing that happened. I've always taken responsibility. I've never denied what I did. I've never told anything but the truth. I'm very sorry for what's happened. I can't change that. I've tried to do my time and I've tried to make it profitable as far as myself. I've learned a lot of things. I think I'm a better person. I don't know what more I can do, I've done a lot of time and If I'm ever going to be released, now is the time because my family needs me"

Bounds' niece, Lisa Childers, addressed the board members asking that her uncle be released. She said he is needed at home especially to help care for his ailing mother, Novella Bounds and brother, Billy Bounds. "He is needed at home right now. His mother is very sick and so is my father. There's just not enough of us to take care of everyone and he would be a great big help to us. As far as a job, there's a man in McMinnville that Gerald is friends with who would give him a job. He has a daughter. He also has two grandchildren that he can help raise."

Patricia Bell, whose husband Mike Bell is Bound's cousin also addressed the parole board members. "I have known Gerald for most of my life. I do realize that he made a serious mistake and I think he realizes that. He has paid the ultimate price for it. Nothing he can do could turn around and take back what happened and give a life back. We do realize that and are truly sorry for it. But his mother is in very ill health. She is very elderly. She just had a stroke. She is in the nursing home and we're trying to get her home. His brother is in bad health. He was the caretaker of their mother. He has had a leg amputated. He's had a heart attack. Gerald would be a great help to his family, a great support to his family, his mother, his brother, his daughter, and grandchildren."

Katherine Pack, a first cousin of the victim, spoke on behalf of Wright's mother Louise saying " Her concerns are that she doesn't want someone else to be a victim and that's what she worries about more than anything. We are here in objection to Mr. Bounds being paroled."

In addition to Pack and Wright's mother, other members of the Wright family in attendance at the hearing were Brenice Wright and wife Wanda, Kenny Wright and wife Kathy, and nephew Nick Wright and Christy Cawthorne.

Along with the recommendation that Bounds be denied release, Hakeem and Taylor also recommended that he undergo a psychological evaluation within the next two years.

In addressing Bounds, Hakeem said "To say the least, the Wright family and even your family have been grieved by the actions that you took on that day. Since being in the institution, you have had very limited disciplinary history. As far as criminal activity overall, it's very limited. And to your benefit sir, you have been involved in programs and I truly think that you are not the same person today that you were when you came into the institution. But the fact remains, that you received a jury trial and you were found guilty of first degree murder, and though you have served many years, I have difficulty as far as releasing you at this time. It's going to be my vote to put you off for two years due to the seriousness of the offense and prior to your coming back before the board, that we have a psychological completed on you for propensity for violence"

In his remarks to Bounds, Taylor said "You should be commended. You are the type of candidate for parole that we like to see. You have an exemplary disciplinary record. You have no prior felonies. We see where you continue to try to improve yourself, especially in acquiring an accounting degree. Certainly working in the law library and you're maintaining a minimum trustee level while you're incarcerated. But I agree with Mr. Hakeem. Murder is a serious matter and you are serving a life sentence. I think Mr. Hakeem has been very generous in putting you off for two years. But because of these good things that Mr. Bounds has done, he's only put him off for two more years and asks that he have a psychological evaluation. To that degree I have to confirm and agree with my colleague, Mr. Hakeem that we cannot parole you at this time Mr. Bounds. However, he's only putting you off for two years. I'll agree with that and I'll ask for a psychological evaluation. We're declining you because of the seriousness of the crime. That is my vote today."

Bounds' file will now go to the other five members of the state board of pardons and paroles. They will review the case and cast their votes. The voting continues until there are four concurring votes (either to parole or to deny parole), which is what the law requires for a decision on this offense.

The factors board members consider in making parole decisions include the seriousness of the offense, the amount of time served, support and/or opposition to the parole, victim impact, any disciplinary issues the offender might have had while incarcerated, any programs the offender might have completed while incarcerated, etc.

It generally takes 3-4 weeks to get a final decision in any case.

Odell Charged by Smithville Police in Shake and Bake Meth Lab Discovery

October 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Amy Odell (photo from a previous arrest)
Police suspect Meth Lab operation was conducted in bathroom
Drug paraphernalia and Meth Lab Components found in Smithville Apartment

Smithville Police found a shake and bake meth lab Monday at Brookview Apartments.

Detective Matt Holmes, who investigated the case, said 38 year old Amy Odell is charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of a schedule II controlled substance (meth), and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond is $47,500 and she will be in court on October 28th.

According to Detective Holmes, police initially received a complaint about drug activity in the residence and the apartment manager found meth lab components there while conducting a monthly inspection when Odell was away. The manager notified a security officer and he gave a statement to police about what was found in the apartment.

After obtaining a search warrant, Detective Holmes along with Sergeant Randy King and patrolman Matt Farmer went to Odell's apartment around 7:30 p.m. and found a meth lab in the kitchen closet. They also found coffee filters in the home containing finished product of meth. A search of the bathroom closet turned up a container with several used hypodermic needles

Odell wasn't at home while police were conducting the search but she was spotted in a Chevy S-10 pickup truck around 9:15 p.m. by county deputy Jeremy Taylor. Officer Taylor stopped the truck at the Sonic Drive-In and charged the driver, Christopher South, with driving on a suspended license. Odell, a passenger of the truck, was also placed in custody. Detective Holmes says more product used to make meth was also found in the truck, which belongs to Odell.

Smithville Police Arrest Suspect in McMinnville Armed Robbery

October 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Patricia Johnson East

A suspect in an armed robbery of the Cash and Dash in McMinnville was stopped by Smithville Police and taken into custody Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Randy Caplinger said 22 year old Patricia Johnson East of Cookeville was stopped on South Congress Boulevard near the Red Barn Produce location shortly after 4:00 p.m. Inside her vehicle, police found a semi-automatic pistol and cash. She has now been charged in Warren County with aggravated robbery and theft of property. East allegedly entered the Cash and Dash in McMinnville wearing a ball cap and eyeglasses armed with a pistol. She reportedly left with $600-$700 in cash.

According to Chief Caplinger, police received a BOLO or "Be on the lookout" for a white SUV being driven by a white female. A license plate number was given. The BOLO, received at 3:50 p.m., reported that a woman had "just robbed at gunpoint a Cash and Dash in McMinnville." The car was last seen traveling toward Smithville.

Chief Caplinger said Lieutenant Steven Leffew set up on South Congress Boulevard waiting for the vehicle and spotted it shortly after 4:00 p.m.

Lieutenant Leffew's report states " I set up on South Congress Boulevard at 4:09 p.m. and saw a white Pathfinder driven by a white female traveling northbound. As I got behind the vehicle, I confirmed the license plate number. I stopped the vehicle and approached it from the passenger side. I instructed the driver to place her hands on the roof of the car. I told the woman, Patricia Johnson East, that the McMinnville Police Department was requesting to talk to her and they were enroute. East became upset and started crying. I told her to calm down but to keep her hands where I could see them. I asked her if there were any weapons in the vehicle and she stated "no".

"Officer Matt Farmer arrived on the scene. He approached the vehicle from the passenger side. Officer Farmer asked her if he could look in the vehicle and she said "yes". Farmer ordered her to get out of the vehicle. He noticed a gun case on the passenger side floor board. Farmer also produced a pistol from the car. She was handcuffed and taken into custody for protection and she was read her rights. She gave a verbal consent to search her vehicle."

Chief Caplinger says McMinnville and Sparta detectives came to the scene and authorities from Cumberland County later arrived at the police department to question her about similar crimes in those counties. She was then taken to Warren County to be charged.

Before her arrest , Chief Caplinger said Smithville Police were called Tuesday to two locations in Smithville to check out a suspicious person, which could have been East.

Chief Caplinger said an officer was called to 3D Financial at 2:31 p.m. in reference to a panic alarm. Upon arrival an employee stated that they received an alert in reference to a white female, driving a white SUV who had committed an armed robbery in Cumberland County and Putnam County. Employees said a female driving a similar type vehicle came into the business (3D Financial) and she was acting suspiciously. The woman had left the business by the time police arrived.

The police department was called to Cash Express on a similar complaint, but again the suspect was gone by the time police arrived.

Chief Caplinger says surveillance video from the Cash Express and 3D Financial will be reviewed to see if East was the woman who came into those places of business.

Apartment Building and Parked Car Struck by Motorist Suffering from a Seizure

October 20, 2010
Dwayne Page
Damage to Apartment Building (Siding Stripped Off After Accident)

A Smithville man, driving a pickup truck, apparently suffered a seizure as he pulled into the parking lot of Evans Manor Apartments Tuesday night. The truck struck a parked car and then ran into the side of one of the apartment buildings causing some damage.

Zackary Hale was treated at the scene by DeKalb EMS but did not have to be transported to the hospital. No one else was injured.

Sergeant Randy King of the Smithville Police Department reports that "On October 19th, I responded to an accident at 848 Foster Road. Upon arrival, I observed a black S-10 owned by Zackary Hale, resting against the wall of the Evans Manor Apartment complex. Paramedics at the scene advised me that the driver, Hale, had reportedly had a seizure. Neighbors in the complex also stated that they had observed the driver in the state of having a seizure at the time of the collision."

A car "parked and unoccupied in an undesignated parking lane was struck at the rear of the vehicle. The car received damage down the entire length as Hale's truck continued to travel in the direction of the apartment complex. The truck then struck the outside wall of apartment 113B, causing substantial structural damage. The Smithville Fire Department was forced to evacuate the apartment as a precaution."

(NOTE: The truck did NOT cause ALL the damage shown in the above photo. Some of the siding was stripped off after the accident)

Parole Hearing for Bounds Set for Thursday

October 18, 2010
Dwayne Page
Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds

63 year Gerald Wayne (J.B.) Bounds of McMinnville, who has spent nearly 30 years in prison for the fatal shooting of a DeKalb County man in 1981, is scheduled to have another parole hearing Thursday, October 21st at the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Pikeville where he is incarcerated.

Bounds is serving a life sentence for the first degree premeditated killing of 27 year old Sherman Wright, who was shot once in the head just outside the Odyssey Arcade on West Broad Street, across from the Dairy Queen. The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 2nd, 1981, allegedly over a gambling debt. The game room no longer exists. The building now serves as the location for the Discount Tobacco Outlet.

Bounds has been before members of the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Parole twice in recent years trying to gain an early release, but so far to no avail. Members of the Wright family and state prosecutors have always opposed it and plan to oppose it again this time.

Melissa McDonald, Communications Director for the Tennessee Board of Probation & Parole, said this will be the third parole review hearing for Bounds. He first became eligible for parole in 2002 (Initial parole eligibility is determined by the statute under which the offender was convicted) and was declined for seriousness of the offense. The Board reviewed his case again in 2005, and again denied him for seriousness of the offense.

A Board Member will hear this case Thursday, and at the end, he or she will cast a vote---either to parole or deny parole. After the hearing, the file will go to the other six Board Members, who will review the case and cast their votes. McDonald said " The voting continues until we reach four concurring votes (either to parole or to deny parole), which is what the law requires for a decision on this offense."

The factors Board Members consider in making parole decisions include the seriousness of the offense, the amount of time served, support and/or opposition to the parole, victim impact, any disciplinary issues the offender might have had while incarcerated, any programs the offender might have completed while incarcerated, etc.

If the offender is denied parole, the Board will set a date when they will consider the case again. They can set that time for anywhere from one to six years.

It generally takes 2-3 weeks to get a final decision in any case.

Mayor and Aldermen to Review Golf Course Proposals During Thursday Workshop

October 18, 2010
Dwayne Page

Facing a Saturday deadline, the Smithville Mayor and Board of Aldermen still seem unsettled on what to do about the Municipal Golf Course and Swimming Pool

Smithville Golf Management is giving up it's lease as of Saturday, October 23rd and no one has yet been selected by the city to either to lease or manage the operation.

Two weeks ago, the aldermen voted to seek written proposals from interested parties and last night (Monday night) two were offered. Thursday night, the mayor and aldermen will meet in a workshop at 7:00 p.m. to review the proposals from Farron Hendrix and Tony Poss and any others that might be presented.

Farron Hendrix of Smithville Golf Management, the current tenant, told the mayor and aldermen Monday night that his group would agree to assist the city in the continued management of the golf course during the transition under certain conditions.

Hendrix said those conditions are that: "The City of Smithville will purchase our equipment at an appraised value."

"The City of Smithville will pay two employees (chosen by Smithville Golf Management) an hourly wage of $10.00 each to run the clubhouse and maintain the golf course."

Smithville Golf Management will continue to oversee the course, maintain and repair the equipment (with the City purchasing any needed parts), and assist with course maintenance (aerating, mowing, seeding, etc.) until April 1st, 2011."

"Smithville Golf Management will submit to the City all green fees collected, and weekly time sheets of the employees."

"Currently, two employees are needed nine hours per day Monday through Friday, and ten hours per day Saturday and Sunday; however, as the weather changes, these weekly hours will decrease", said Hendrix.

Hendrix added "This proposal will allow the City to keep the Golf Course operational during the slower winter season, and will allow the City an extended amount of time to determine how to best manage the Golf Course."

Meanwhile, Tony Poss, doing business as Poss Lawncare, addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night with his own proposal.

"My proposal has four options for the city to consider. Option 1: I agree to manage the golf course and swimming pool for the City of Smithville for all revenues under $94,000 to help pay for labor in the Pro-shop and golf course mowing labor from this $94,000. After $94,000 in gross sales, I will reimburse the city at a rate of 50% each month until my management term is terminated. The city will pay for all expenses of the pool, golf course, lifeguards, utilities, and all insurance costs. Repair or replace any defects in irrigation lines to the greens and tee boxes which includes pumps or any other issue that may arise. The city will pay for all Golf course equipment needed and expenses on the equipment while I'm overseeing the course. Any new equipment for the course or improvements will be approved by the city and myself before any purchases are made. This proposal is for 10 years and an optional 10 year extension. I will give the city a 60 day notice of any intent to void a contract at any time and in no way be obligated to this proposal if awarded under these terms. These terms can be discussed or altered in any way as long as both parties agree to the terms. If the city agrees to any proposal, the city also pays the attorney fees to make any one of these proposals legal."

"Option 2: I would retain all revenues under $71,000 to pay for three employees to run the Pro-Shop and keep the greens, golf course and swimming pool under supervision. This pro-shop is open seven days a week and a minimum of 12-14 hours per day. The city would pay all expenses and after the $71,000 is reached in gross sales, I would reimburse the city 50% of the sales after that. The city would furnish extra help to mow the golf course."

"Option 3: Pay me a salary of $71,000 to manage the course seven days a week, on average 119 hours per week during peak months and the city to supply needed help and equipment. The city would keep 80% of the revenues and I would receive 20%.'

"Option 4: have a workshop to see if an agreement can be reached."

Poss added " My main goal is to have a manicured golf course, respectful pro-shop, and a more up to date swimming pool. This is why I want to partner with the city to try and get grants to achieve this."

Mayor Taft Hendrixson said the city could not purchase equipment directly from Smithville Golf Management, because of the competitive bidding requirement. Alderman Aaron Meeks added that funds are not allocated in this year's budget for some of the suggestions offered up in these proposals.

The mayor said if no agreement is reached soon, the city may have to hire someone as a stand-in manager to keep the golf course maintained until the issue is settled.

Labyrinth to be Placed in Greenbrook Park

October 18, 2010
Dwayne Page
Mark Pafford and Betsy Driver

The Smithville Aldermen Monday night approved a request for a group to place a labyrinth in Greenbrook Park that the public may use for personal reflection and meditation.

A labyrinth provides a walking path which leads to the center of an intricate spiral design and back out again. The labyrinth is often used to facilitate prayer, meditation, and spiritual transformation.

Betsy Driver addressed the mayor and aldermen Monday night asking for approval to place the labyrinth in the park.. "A labyrinth is essentially a prayer circle. It's a place where somebody can go to and take fifteen, thirty minutes, or an hour out of their day and seek an answer to maybe whatever it is they're looking for. To take time out and walk a path. When you start in that path, it goes around a large circle and then it intertwines back and forth until you meet in the center and then from that point, you walk back out of it in the same direction you came in. When we begin this project, we intend to include groups from the county locally to help get this project off the ground. We hope that whether it's the suicide awareness groups, people who would be from the cancer walk group, they could use it during their time there by placing candles perhaps in remembrance of those who have passed on."

Mark Pafford, a local minister who also supports the project, said a labyrinth can also be therapeutic. "It would be large enough to have a walking path in that spiral pattern. I have worked with many groups who use a labyrinth in a therapeutic setting. As a chaplain resident at the V.A., I used it with the V.A. patients and substance abuse patients at the V.A. in Murfreesboro to great benefit as well as behavioral health patients and geriatric patients to assist them. It's not only a therapeutic thing but it's a prayer space. A place for reflection and a place to retreat. Greenbrook Park offers a wonderful setting and venue for this piece. I think it would be a wonderful addition to that public space there."

Driver added that the city would not have to maintain it. "There will be no maintenance to it. We will be the ones to maintain it. Outside the actual labyrinth itself, we've given about seven feet of area that will be a garden that we'll plant just a few trees, evergreens, and ornamental trees and that space would be very easy for our maintenance crew to literally circle around. They'll not have to enter that space at all."

Driver said the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club, who oversee activities in Greenbrook Park, has given it's blessing for the labyrinth.

Again, the aldermen approved the request but city officials want some input on where it is to be located in the park.

In other business, the aldermen voted to dip into the general fund surplus again by increasing it's annual contribution to the Chamber of Commerce.

The city annually budgets $5,000 for the chamber but Chamber Director Suzanne Williams says the chamber needs a little extra money to help them get by and asked for an additional $5,000 per year. "The Chamber struggles every year (financially). We've got a bare bones budget. We don't have an extravagant amount of money we spend on anything. It's mostly for utilities and rent. We don't have high salaries. I have a part time secretary. This year has been particularly difficult because of the economic downturn and other things. At one point, I didn't know how we were going to get through the end of October."

" I spoke to the county commission to let them know our situation. As I told them outside of our fundraisers and our membership, we still need an extra $30,000 just to make our budget. The county commission voted to increase their annual funding from $10,000 to $20,000 and they asked that I come and speak to the city and see if you would increase yours from $5,000 to $10,000.'

"Out of the fourteen Upper Cumberland counties, we have the third highest tourism dollars. We bring in like $35 million in tourism dollars and we're one of the lowest funded chambers in the region. We know that Smithville does benefit significantly from tourism dollars and I hope that you would see the many benefits the chamber brings and provides for the city. I think if you had to open your own welcome center, just hiring one employee would probably be $20,000 not to mention all the other things that's involved with that. But I would ask that you consider amending your budget and adding an extra $5,000 to your annual contribution to the chamber."

The budget year for the chamber of commerce runs from January to December and the fiscal year for the city is from July 1st , 2010 to June 30th, 2011. Alderman Steve White made a motion to amend the budget and add $2,500 to the line item for the chamber this budget year making their total appropriation $7,500 for the fiscal year through June 30th, 2011 and then budget a total of $10,000 in next year's budget, which begins July 1st, 2011. The motion was adopted unanimously.

City employee Jimmy Taylor asked the mayor and aldermen if he could donate five of his sick days to a co-worker whose wife is in the hospital with a serious illness. Taylor says this employee has exhausted his own sick days and needs to be with his wife. The aldermen approved the request, provided it is legal for the city to do so. Officials will check with the city's financial consultant Janice Plemmons-Jackson and possibly the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) to make sure.

Hardcastle Gets Eight Year Sentence in Alexandria Aggravated Burglary and Robbery

October 16, 2010
Dwayne Page
Debralee Hardcastle

A 30 year old woman, charged on August 23rd, 2009 in an early Sunday morning assault on her 95 year old landlord at the residence they shared at 309 West Main Street in Alexandria, received an eight year sentence in Criminal Court Friday.

Debralee Hardcastle pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary. She received an eight year sentence to serve in the robbery case and three years to serve in the burglary. The two sentences are to run concurrently as one eight year term and concurrently with a Wilson County violation of probation against her.

Hardcastle was given jail credit for time served from August 23rd, 2009 to October 15th, 2010.

Chief Mark Collins of the Alexandria Police Department, on August 23rd, 2009, said Hardcastle was charged with especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated assault in the attack on Lilae Belle Gilliam. Hardcastle was also charged at the time with theft under $500 in a separate case.

According to Chief Collins, Gilliam, who lived alone, rented a portion of her home to Hardcastle and another woman less than a month before this incident occurred. They apparently moved here from Wilson County. Both dwellings in the Gilliam home were under the same roof but had separate entrances.

Chief Collins said Hardcastle, in order to alter her appearance, dressed disguised as a man and then left her room around 3:15 a.m. He said she went outside, went around the house, and knocked on Mrs. Gilliam's side door. When Mrs. Gilliam answered the door, Hardcastle, holding a 14 inch knife, forced her way inside and demanded the elderly woman's medication. Mrs. Gilliam, who apparently did not recognize Hardcastle, resisted and tried to defend herself. Though she fought off the attack, Gilliam suffered lacerations and bruises from blows to her head and upper body.

After the assault, Hardcastle returned to her room, taking three bottles of medication from Gilliam's residence. Mrs. Gilliam, bleeding from the attack, dropped to her hands and knees, crawled to the foyer near the door and began screaming for help.

Apparently in an attempt to avoid arousing suspicion as to her involvement, Hardcastle removed her disguise, changed her clothes, cleaned up and went back to assist Mrs. Gilliam and called 911.

Gilliam was transported by DeKalb EMS to UMC Medical Center in Lebanon where she was treated and released.

Chief Collins said after interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence at the scene, Hardcastle was identified as a suspect.. She was picked up for questioning, but she refused to cooperate or give a statement. She was subsequently charged in the case.

The case was investigated by the Alexandria Police Department in cooperation with the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.

Former Circuit Court Clerk Bookkeeper Gets Pre-Trial Diversion

October 16, 2010
Dwayne Page
Tonya Page

A former bookkeeper at the DeKalb County Circuit Court Clerk's Office, charged with theft of property over $1,000, appeared in Criminal Court Friday where she was granted pre-trial diversion under a memorandum of understanding.

Under terms of the agreement, Tonya D. Page will be on supervised probation by the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Parole for a period of two years and she must make restitution of $8,501 and pay court costs in the case within ninety days. At the end of the two years, if Page has complied with the conditions set out in this pre-trial diversion agreement, then the case is to be dismissed.

This memorandum of understanding, approved by Judge Leon Burns, Jr., was agreed to by and between the Assistant District Attorney General for DeKalb County, the defendant Page and her attorney Adam Parrish.

Page was charged in a grand jury sealed indictment in August, 2009.

The charge stemmed from a TBI investigation into a cash shortage of $8,501 in General Sessions Court funds, which was discovered during an annual state audit.

Page was initially hired as a clerk in the office four years ago and then as bookkeeper. She was later terminated from her employment there, after this incident arose.

The case against Page was presented to the Grand Jury by the TBI.


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