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String of witnesses called in double-murder trial
By WAYNE THOMAS
Accused murderer Marcus Wade said Monday he feels prosecutors have failed to prove their case against him in his double murder trial currently underway in Coffee County Circuit Court.
Wade is accused of murdering Ricky Elliott, 50, of Estill Springs, and Timothy Wayne Gill, 34, of Winchester, in October 2010 in a room at the Quality Inn motel on North Jackson Street.
Wade told The Tullahoma News that he felt prosecutors have “for the most part used trickery” in the case.
He said that he felt that the case originated from what he called a vendetta against him.
“Winchester Police Chief Dennis Young and (FBI agent) Richard Poff are upset that the case against me in federal court was dismissed,” Wade said.
He also said that he felt that federal and state inmates who testified against him did so to get a better sentence on their prison terms.
“The testimony just shows fabrication on the part of those witnesses and the police,” Wade said. “They haven’t proven their case against me.”
Those statements came after Terry Whitaker, currently serving a 15-year sentence in a McCreary, Ky. federal prison, testified about statements made when he and Wade were housed together in Bradley County awaiting federal sentencing.
Whitaker testified that Wade told him about shooting Elliott and Gill in the motel.
“He said that he did it for a family member,” Whitaker said, in reference to Wade’s nephew, who was caught in a drug sting in Franklin County, allegedly through the work of Elliott working with police.
Also on Monday, Shannon Pentecost, who is currently serving 15 years and eight months in a federal prison in Arkansas on crack cocaine charges, testified that Wade talked with him a few days after the shootings, and that he said that “he killed the two of them.”
Pentecost stated that Wade told him that he should have had Tamica Jones killed, as well. Jones had testified earlier in the trial that she was with Wade on the night of the murders.
Defense attorney Bobby Carter asked Pentecost and Whitaker if they had been promised a lighter sentence for testifying against his client, but both denied that they had. They both testified that they had met with members of the district attorney’s office to discuss their testimony.
Prosecutors also presented Casey Tarrant, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence in the Turney Center in Hickman County for possession of marijuana, who told Assistant District Attorney Jason Ponder that he saw Wade on Oct. 29, 2010 (the date that prosecutors think that Elliott and Gill were murdered) and that he said that everything was going to be okay for his nephew’s possible prison term.
“Then the next night I saw on the TV news where they were killed,” Tarrant testified.
Tarrant told Carter that he and Wade’s nephew were caught in a drug sting that used Elliott and Gill to make buys of illegal drugs.
Both victims died of single shot to head
Dr. Sandra Thomas, who works for the State Medical Examiner’s Office, took the witness stand Monday morning and detailed the autopsies performed on Elliott and Gill.
She said that both victims were killed with a single gunshot wound to the head. She also noted that Gill had a gunshot wound in his right arm. She stated that Elliott was shot just below the hairline, while Gill was shot just over his right eye. She explained that both shots were fatal and death was immediate.
ADA Marla Holloway raised a question with Thomas that had been brought up earlier in the trial about body core temperature. Carter had asked Investigator Jason Kennedy if body core temperatures had been taken to determine the time of death.
“Contrary to what you see on TV that doesn’t work,” Thomas said. “The body temperature is different for different people, so you wouldn’t know what their normal temperature is. Also, clothing and where the body is found could make a difference, so, no, a core temperature would not have placed the time of death.”
The final prosecution witness was FBI agent Richard Poff, who testified that he, Winchester Police Department Chief Dennis Young, and Tullahoma Police Department investigator Jason Kennedy transported Wade to federal custody on Jan. 25, 2012 in Chattanooga.
The federal agent testified that he sat in the backseat with Wade during the ride to Chattanooga.
“Detective Jason Kennedy told Mr. Wade that investigators were aware of his movements before and after the murders,” the FBI agent said. “He told Mr. Wade that investigators were aware that he sold crack cocaine to Ricky Elliott and Mr. Wade nodded his head in the affirmative.
“Detective Kennedy then stated that investigators were aware that Mr. Wade was at the Quality Inn and he nodded his head yes.
“Chief Young described the manner of the shooting of the two men and he (Wade) nodded his head yes,” Agent Poff testified.
“I said people have different motives to kill and I asked him if he killed Ricky Elliott and Tim Gill to avenge his nephew being arrested,” the agent testified. “He tearfully nodded his head yes twice.
“Detective Kennedy then said to Mr. Wade that he had said in the past interviews that he would not hurt anyone unless they hurt his family,” Poff continued in his testimony. “He asked if he killed them to protect his nephew and Mr. Wade nodded his head forward.”
Poff testified that Young asked Wade if his nephew and another individual, who was arrested on drug charges because of work that Elliott allegedly conducted for police, each paid $2,500 to kill Elliott and Gill.
“He said that he did not get paid,” Poff said.
The agent stated that Wade eventually asked for an attorney, so they stopped asking him questions.
When asked by Carter why any one of the three officers could not have recorded statements being made by Wade, Poff noted that it is “an FBI rule that people not be recorded without telling them.” Carter asked about why they did not get a written statement and Poff answered, “Mr. Wade asked for an attorney.”
“So all we have is the word of the law enforcement officers that he made the statements,” Carter said. “No doubt in my mind he admitted to killing Ricky Elliott and Tim Gill several times,” Poff said.
Prosecutors and the defense attorney were scheduled to make closing arguments or summarize their cases yesterday afternoon before Coffee County Circuit Court Judge Craig Johnson and the jury of nine women and three men.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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