Photos courtesy of J. Miles Cary
Knox County Medical Examiner Christopher Lochmueller said there was no doubt gunshots killed
Jim Miller before his body was set on fire.
MADISONVILLE-Jessica Kennedy lived
through a horrific childhood, but does that mean she did, or did not
kill Jim Miller in July 2010?
Defense attorney John Eldridge appeared
to lay out a defense that showed Kennedy was browbeat and intimidated
into giving a false confession to TBI and Monroe County Sheriff's
officers in November, 2010. On Friday, he brought in a psychologist
to testify to the experiences Kennedy had lived through in her life.
Kathryn Smith said she interviewed
Kennedy for more than 12 hours and was able to diagnose her as
suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe
depression, schizophrenia, has a history of substance abuse and is
"Her whole life has been documented," Smith said, "which is very unusual. She vastly underreported to me
what has happened to her."
Smith said Kennedy, 29, had suffered
neglect and physical and sexual abuse as a child, starting at the age
"There were three people convicted
for abusing her," Smith said. "Two stepfathers and an uncle who
also abused her sisters and brothers (Kennedy is the oldest of seven
children). She was given marijuana at the age of seven and was
hospitalized for mental health problems by the age of eight."
Smith said Kennedy was moved around a
lot and was in and out of child protective services.
"The family," she said, "was basically trying to avoid the child protective
services and went from state to state (Kennedy spent most of her
childhood in Indiana)."
Smith said Kennedy wasn't suicidal,
but had a pattern of thinking she might be better off dead.
"She's a very
disturbed person," Smith said, "and carries that with her
everywhere she goes. She doesn't see idle threats. She knows bad
people do bad things. Everything will be OK is not what she knows.
Horrible things happen to women in her world. She's just really
Another avenue Eldridge seems to be
pursuing is one of somebody else having killed Miller and he brought
in two witnesses who have both been named in Kennedy's stories,
including former Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy Kenny Hope.
Hope was one of the first suspects
named in the case after he allegedly told people he'd been the one
to kill Miller.
Hope said on the stand the only contact
he'd ever had with Miller was when he gave him a speeding ticket. "He was running blue lights in his car," Hope said, "and
speeding for no reason and I pulled him over. He didn't like it. He
thought he was above the law."
Miller was an auxiliary officer for the
Loudon County Sheriff's Office and had his car equipped with lights
Eldridge asked Hope if he'd claimed
he killed Miller and Hope said he didn't.
"I said nothing about killing Jim
Miller," Hope told the jury. "It was all political and I got
dragged into it."
With the jury out of the courtroom
Thursday, Hope denied his wife had been having an affair with Miller
and he became upset about it.
"I'd been divorced three or four
years by the time Miller was killed," Hope said. "I don't think
my ex-wife even knew who Miller was."
Hope said he told investigators where
he was when Miller was killed and they had receipts and even video to
prove where he was telling the truth.
Hope's testimony was contradicted by
two people, but their testimony also contradicted each other.
Brenda Stakely said she and her husband
had taken Hope to Jim Plemons' home where Hope became extremely
intoxicated and said he killed Miller and "burned him like the pig he
Stakely said Hope claimed he hated
Miller and former Monroe County Sheriff Doug Watson and made the
killing claim four or five times before he left sometime between 3
and 4 a.m.
Plemons, however, testified and that
Hope said, "I killed the big bastard and put him in the trunk." Plemons said it shocked him so badly he took Hope home about 10 p.m.
The other witness was Wallace "Boonie" Stokes who Kennedy had named as the killer in a couple of her
interviews with law enforcement. Stokes, who has spent time in prison
in connection with the 1997 killing of Katherine Jean Frye, said he
didn't participate in the killing of Miller.
"I just know what the papers put
out," he said.
Stokes also said he hadn't sent texts
to Kennedy that seemed to indicate he was involved in killing Miller,
but would never admit to it. The texts also told Kennedy she might
want to take a vacation.
Stokes looked at copies of the texts
and said he didn't know what they were. "I've never even had a
phone in my name," he said.
Stokes said he and Kennedy, who refused
to look at him for most of his testimony, had carried on an affair
behind Brandon Steele's back, but that was the only connection he
had with her.
Testimony wrapped up
at 4:15 p.m. Friday and Judge Walter Kurtz sent the jury home after
telling them they would hear closing arguments and judge's
instructions Monday morning, then they would go into deliberation.