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80 Years Ago

Archives 2001 08-29-2001




Alpine Man Dies In Head On Collision
Murder Suspect Shoots Self With "Unloaded" Gun
Extensive News Coverage Cited In Murder Case


Alpine Man Dies In Head On Collision

Becky Meredith, OCN staff

An Alpine man was killed in a head-on collision on State Highway 52 around 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21.

According to reports, Bob Keith Bowmer, 66, of Livingston, was driving a 1991 Dodge van eastbound on Highway 52 East as Stephen Paul Murphy, 34, of Alpine, was driving a 1989 Toyota Corolla westbound. The van failed to negotiate a curve near milepost 21, crossed the center line, and struck the Toyota in the front and driver's side.

Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene. Bowmer was transported by private vehicle to Livingston Regional Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

THP Sgt. Jim Beaty investigated the collision. Charges are pending the result of tests.


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Murder Suspect Shoots Self With "Unloaded” Gun

By Robert Forsman

A defendant charged with the shooting death of a Pickett County man shot himself Monday, Aug. 20.

Edward J. Jones, 65, was found lying outside his vehicle on Little Crab Road in Fentress County, suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to reports.

According to a statement reportedly made by Jones, he had stopped to tighten a wheel. He was removing a .22 rifle from the vehicle when the gun fired, wounding him.

Jones reportedly said he had been shot with an unloaded gun. An investigator found eight live rounds in the rifle. The safety was off, according to the investigator, and a spent shell was found approximately 18 inches from where Jones was lying.

An ambulance transported Jones to the hospital in Fentress County. He was then airlifted to a University of Tennessee medical facility in Knoxville.

Jones is charged with first degree murder in the 1999 shooting death of Bill Winningham, 63, of Pickett County. A 20 gauge shotgun was the reported murder weapon. Jones was free on bond when the self-inflicted gunshot wound reportedly occurred.

He was scheduled to appear in criminal court, Judge Lillie Ann Sells presiding, on Tuesday, Aug. 21, one day after the shooting, for a hearing on a motion to revoke his bond filed by Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett, and for a motion filed by Public Defender Art Johnson to suppress a statement made by Jones following an unrelated incident.

Describing the statement as "self serving", Assistant DA Burnett didn't oppose the motion to suppress it when it was brought before the court last Tuesday.

"The state concedes that this motion is right?” Judge Sells asked.

"Yes, Your Honor," Burnett replied.

The motion to revoke Jones' bond was continued contingent upon his condition.

"If he lives, we'll hear it later," Burnett said.

Judge Sells asked if the self-inflicted gunshot wound was intentional.

"I can't say positively that it was non-accidental," replied Burnett.

A hearing to revoke Jones' bond without him being present is possible if certain conditions exist.

Judge Sells said, "Obviously if he's a threat to himself and others, the court can hear it without him being here. If it's determined that the shooting wasn't accidental, he doesn't need to be here."

Jones' trial for first degree murder was scheduled to begin in Pickett County Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Judge Sells said, "It may still go to trial on the fifth if he's out of the hospital."


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Extensive News Coverage Cited In Murder

By Robert Forsman

Citing "pretty extensive" news coverage of the Timothy Reagan murder case in Overton County, Public Defender Art Johnson filed a motion to move the upcoming trial to another county.

Judge Lillie Ann Sells heard the motion during the Tuesday, Aug. 21 session of Overton County Criminal Court.

Johnson said the case had also been reported in the Herald Citizen and The Tennessean.

Reagan is accused of killing his wife with an explosive device in January 2000. Reagan has been in custody since being released from a hospital after receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the explosion that took the life of his wife.

Johnson called a headline of a story in the Herald-Citizen about the alleged murder "inflammatory."

According to Johnson, the headline read, "Dying Woman Makes Statement." Johnson said, "I think that kind of thing creates prejudice in the community."

Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett called accounts of the alleged murder in Overton County News "fair reporting." Burnett said, "We should wait and see what the jurors have heard."

Judge Sells said, "This could be undue excitement. This court is not going to rule on this motion at this time. If we run into a problem, the court will decide then. We could go to another county, pick a jury, and return here."

Johnson replied, "That would certainly be satisfactory."

Overton County Circuit Court Clerk Johnny Brown and his staff will issue approximately 100 summonses for potential jury members. Brown said at least that many citizens must be summoned to form a jury pool of 75.

Johnson asked for a list of possible jurors to be provided before the trial. A ruling granting his request was entered.

Judge Sells said, "There will be no contact whatsoever with potential jurors, whatsoever. I can assure you that you don't want to do that."

Reagan's trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Sept. 19.




Overton County News
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P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
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