Local News Articles

DeKalb Athletes Compete in Challenger Cup Soccer Tournament

December 8, 2017
Cameron Miller and Evan Morse

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"

December 8, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Santa with Jen Sherwood, Suzanne Williams, and Santa's Helpers
County Officials and employees waiting to greet public during Open House at the Courthouse during Christmas on the Square
Kathy Hendrixson helping Cameron Purcell make a Christmas Ornament at Justin Potter Library
Delilah and Arigail Wilkerson with little friend at the DeKalb Animal Shelter Adopt-A-Pet event during 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

December 7, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
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

December 7, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Louis Simon Lopez, III

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

December 7, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page

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

December 6, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Anthony (Tony) Tyrone Crews
Ashley Bain
District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway
Cleveland Derrick Bain, the victim's brother who is also an attorney
Criminal Court Judge Gary McKenzie

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

December 6, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Klayton Alan Chapman

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.

Plans Finalized for Thursday Night's Christmas on the Square

December 5, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Community Chorus
Santa to visit with Children at Justin Potter Library
County Officials and others last year at Christmas on the Square Open House
Shan Burklow and Suzanne Williams at Lighted Christmas Tree

The Christmas season has arrived and you are invited to join in the celebration Thursday evening, December 7 downtown Smithville for “Christmas on the Square”.

The event will be held from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the public square.

The fun begins at 5:00 p.m. with special singing in the 303 building on the north side of the square along with a LIVE nativity (no animals), the cast of Steel Magnolias, and a festival of trees provided by local businesses and organizations.

The Community Chorus will perform Christmas Classics inside the 303 building beginning at 5:30 p.m. along with the flag and pledge presentation by members of Boy Scout Troop #347. This portion of the program has been rescheduled from outside to the 303 building because of expected cold weather.

Courthouse officials and the Chamber of Commerce will have an Open House starting at 6 p.m. Visit county officials on the main floor (2nd floor) of the courthouse where you’ll find lots of goodies to enjoy. A Free Photo Booth and Holiday DJ Music will be featured in the courthouse compliments of the City of Smithville.

Santa will be making an appearance at Justin Potter Library at 6:30 p.m. so remember to bring your camera. A Santa’s Workshop will also give children a chance to make their own Christmas ornament and do other activities at the library.

The DeKalb Animal Shelter will have an Adopt-A-Pet event at the DeKalb Animal Coalition’s Restore building on West Walnut Street from 5-8 p.m.

A tree lighting ceremony is also planned outside the courthouse. Beautiful outdoor Christmas trees, courtesy of the City of Smithville, will be displayed on the east and west sides of the courthouse.

And don’t forget about all the great downtown shopping!

Hope you can come for this special night – Thursday, December 7 from 5 to 8 PM - Christmas on the Square!

Newby Gets 15 Year Prison Sentence for Aggravated Burglary as Career Offender

December 5, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
Shannon Lynn Newby

A 50 year old man was scheduled to stand trial today (Tuesday) in a three and a half year old aggravated burglary case but he decided instead to enter a plea in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Shannon Lynn Newby received a sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections as a career offender. He must serve at least 60% of the term before becoming eligible for parole. The sentence is to run consecutive to a five year term he is already serving in another case.

Newby and two others, 28 year old Brandon Wayne Hutchings, and 38 year old Sherry Kay Malone were arrested in a burglary and theft investigation in June, 2014 after a concerned citizen came forward to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood.

The three were believed to have been responsible for a burglary and theft at a residence on Early Bain Road on Monday, June 2, 2014. Sheriff Patrick Ray said at the time that the investigation revealed that Malone dropped off Newby and Hutchings at the residence, drove away, and then parked nearby. While Malone was gone, Newby and Hutchings allegedly broke into the residence and removed from the home a 32 inch Element television, a 42 inch Sanyo television, several nail guns, and assorted tools. Malone was to have picked up Newby and Hutchings after they brought the stolen goods outside the home but a neighbor, who became suspicious when he saw Malone parked in the driveway of another residence in the area, went to confront her. The neighbor then notified central dispatch by cell phone and officers of the sheriff's department were sent to investigate. The officers found the stolen items from the victim's home outside near the garage but by that time Newby and Hutchings had already fled the scene.

Prior to the burglary and theft, the observant neighbor had already become suspicious when he spotted more than one person in a strange car driving back and forth several times down the road in the area. Later, he saw the same car again going down the road with only one person inside.

According to Sheriff Ray, Malone was questioned by detectives and subsequently charged in the case. Later that night, Newby was found walking on Robinson Road while Hutchings was picked up on Dry Creek Road. Both were wet and had scratches on them. Detectives believe at least one of the burglars cut himself during the break-in because blood was found inside the victim's home. The DNA evidence was collected and sent to the crime lab.

Malone entered a guilty plea to a charge of aggravated burglary in December, 2015 and received a five year sentence all on TDOC probation. A theft charge against her was dismissed. The sentence was to run consecutively with another case against her.

Brandon Hutchings pled guilty in August, 2015 to aggravated burglary and received a five year sentence to serve. The term was to run consecutive to a violation of probation sentence against him. He was given jail credit at the time of 420 days.

County Clerk James L. “Jimmy” Poss Announces Plans to Seek Re-Election

December 5, 2017
by: 
Dwayne Page
James L. "Jimmy" Poss

DeKalb County Clerk James L. “Jimmy” Poss has announced his intentions to seek re-election in 2018.

Poss will be a candidate for nomination in the DeKalb County Democratic Primary on March 1.

“I have enjoyed serving as your County Clerk and I am very humbled and honored for the support I have received while serving as DeKalb County Clerk,” said Poss.

“I am asking for each person’s continued support while seeking to serve a second term, in the office as DeKalb County Clerk”.

“During my first term as your County Clerk, I have begun fulfilling my campaign promises, which was to provide efficient and courteous service in the Clerk’s Office and to complete County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) training. I have completed the (COCTP) training receiving my Certified Public Administrator certificate. We have worked hard on improvements throughout the office. We are providing an increase in transactions across the board, but are most proud of new services now offered to our citizens previously not available”.

“I’ve worked with both civic organizations and individuals, providing assistance throughout the county assisting with various individual requests”. I have and will continue making myself available to provide assistance at all times. I would like the opportunity to continue to lead our County Clerk’s Office in a forward direction,”.

“Changes that have been implemented during the last 3 years have proven positive, providing more service and convenience to every citizen who utilize our office. Revenue collected ending Fiscal year June 30, 2017 increased more than $200,000.00. Also, the number of completed daily transactions continue to rise. While we have brought change to our office, my commitment for fair and equal, courteous and efficient service has not changed. “It is my desire to continue to work with honesty and integrity for the citizens of DeKalb County,” said Poss.

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