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80 Years Ago

Archives 2001 10-17-2001




Music Festival Set For This Weekend
Masters Convicted In Kidnapping Case
Legislative Body Meeting Held Oct. 9


Music Festival Set For This Weekend

photo courtesy of Hub City Bluegrass

Among several local groups, Hub City Bluegrass of Cookeville will perform at Overton County Music Festival at the Livingston square Saturday evening, Oct. 20. Members of the band are, from left, George Lang, guitar, lead and harmony vocal, Jeff Lang, bass, lead and harmony vocal, James Ramsey, mandolin, lead and harmony vocal, and David King, banjo, three-finger and claw-hammer style. The group has performed together for more than five years and has produced three albums.


The Overton County Music Festival is planned for Friday, Oct. 19 and Saturday, Oct. 20 at the town square in Livingston.

The music-packed weekend will feature music from gospel, bluegrass, and church group musicians from around the area.

Filling the atmosphere will be craft and novelty booths, along with foods provided by local vendors.

David Moore, president of Overton County Merchants Association, said, "We are looking forward to a fun-filled patriotic weekend with friends and family. We hope lots of people come out and enjoy the music, craft and novelty booths, and more."

Musical entertainment will begin Friday night at 6 p.m. with gospel groups performing. Scheduled groups include The Jeff Short Family, The Ball Family, Committed, and Praise.

Church groups will perform from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Miss Music Festival Beauty Pageant set from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Bluegrass groups will perform Saturday night from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will include the Wade Mitchell Group, AZ-IZ, Blue Shadow, the Catlin Thomas Group, Hub City Bluegrass, and Clearview.

Those interested in setting up craft and novelty booths or food booths should call Ron Huitt with Physical Medicine Center at (931) 823-1200 or The Paper Place at (931) 823-2218. Other booths such as knife sharpening and pottery are also welcome.

Contestants, ages 16 to 21, for the Miss Music Festival Beauty Pageant are being accepted. Deadline for entry is today, Wednesday, Oct. 17.

For more information regarding the pageant call Ashley Mullins at (931) 823-1602 or Barbara Keisling at (931) 823-2639.

The music festival is sponsored by Overton County Merchants Association. Everyone is invited to attend and participate in this two-day event.


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Masters Convicted In Kidnapping Case

By Robert Forsman

Carter Masters, 76, was convicted of six offenses by an Overton County jury last week in Criminal Court, Judge Leon Burns presiding.

The five-woman, seven-man jury returned a verdict of guilty on two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated criminal trespassing, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of simple assault.

Masters became the subject of a multi-state manhunt on March 18 after breaking into an Overton County residence and holding his wife, Ruth Masters, and her granddaughter, Jennifer Fletcher, at gunpoint.

Mrs. Masters was preparing to change clothes when she discovered Masters hiding in her bedroom closet. Mrs. Fletcher, accompanied by her 4 year-old daughter, went into the bedroom to see who Mrs. Masters was speaking to.

Masters led the 3 out of the bedroom and into the living room at gunpoint.

According to testimony, while Masters was pointing a loaded pistol at them, the 4 year-old said, "Carter, I love you."

Mrs. Fletcher's 18 month-old child was sleeping in an adjoining room.

Three days before breaking into the residence, Masters was placed under a restraining order as part of a divorce decree. Filed by Attorney Daryl Colson, the order prohibited Masters from contacting his wife in any manner.

Masters left the residence with his wife after threatening to kill her and her granddaughter if she didn't. Masters was reported as being armed and dangerous.

After switching vehicles, Masters drove to Birmingham, Alabama, then to the Florida Keys, then to Daytona Beach, where he was captured outside a motel room on March 23 after law enforcement authorities staged an accident involving his parked vehicle. Mrs. Masters was discovered uninjured inside the motel room.

Masters was transported to Overton County Jail. He's been incarcerated since his return.

During a bond-reduction hearing in Overton County following his arrest, Masters pulled a partially burned grilled cheese sandwich from his jail jump suit and held it up.

"This is what they gave me for lunch," he told Judge Burns.

Masters' attorney Jimmy White told him to sit down and be quiet.

Masters replied, "I don't think I need you anymore."

The $1 million bond wasn't reduced.

Attorney White represented Masters at his trial last week. Assistant District Attorney Owen Burnett prosecuted the case.

The trial, which began with jury selection at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 9, ended at approximately 9:30 p.m. the following day.

Master's former wife, who reassumed her previous last name, identified herself as Ruth Thrasher during testimony.

Mrs. Thrasher testified that a disagreement which led to the March 18 incident occurred last year on November 7, election day. She said Masters asked where she was going. She told him she was going to vote.

Thrasher testified that Masters said, "Don't vote for that so and so."

"He asked me if I voted for blank, blank when I got home," Thrasher said.

She said she did. Masters told her he didn't want to be around someone who would vote that way. She asked if he wanted her to leave.

"He said yes, so I did, Thrasher testified.

Masters began asking her to return after she moved out.

"He called every hour on the hour, Thrasher said.

"You told him to stop? Assistant DA Burnett asked.

"Yes, she replied.

"What did he say? Burnett asked.

"He said if I didn't stop pushing, I'd be sorry," Thrasher replied.

"He asked you to come back?" Attorney White asked during cross examination.

"I told him I didn't want to go back, Thrasher said. "He would call. I would tell him I didn't want to talk. I had a headache. He wouldn't listen. He would come over, banging on the door."

"Did you ever call him?" White asked.

"No," replied Thrasher.

Thrasher testified she had the phone equipped with caller ID and stopped answering calls from his number after moving in with her granddaughter in January. Masters continued coming over.

"I told him to stay away, leave me alone," she said.

Thrasher said between the election day incident and the March 18 kidnapping she went with Masters to have his eyes examined and to Georgia at his insistence.

"He wanted to buy a house in Georgia," she said, "get me away from my family."

Thrasher said Masters came over to where she was living on January 26, after her attorney Daryl Colson filed for a divorce in her behalf.

She said Masters told her if she wasn't careful they would end up like an Overton County couple who were killed in a murder-suicide. Colson filed for an order of protection in her behalf after that.

Thrasher testified that on the day of the kidnapping she had returned home from church on a Sunday at around noon with her granddaughter, Jennifer Fletcher, and Fletcher's two children.

"I opened the closet door, Thrasher said. "He stood up, pulled a gun, pointed it at me. Backed us out into the living room.

Jennifer Fletcher testified that she and her daughter went to the bedroom to see who Thrasher was talking with. She said Masters backed them out of the bedroom and into the living room at gunpoint.

In addition to being charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault of his wife, Masters was charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault of Jennifer Fletcher.

The jury convicted Masters on two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, an offense that is committed when one person confines another against his or her will by using a deadly weapon.

Masters was convicted of the aggravated assault of Jennifer Fletcher and the simple assault of his wife at the time.

Physical contact does not have to occur to charge assault. Threatening another with fear of bodily injury is assault. Aggravated assault is charged when a dangerous weapon is used.

Masters was also convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated criminal trespassing.

Sheriff Kelly Hull testified that Masters had apparently gained entrance to the residence by prying loose a rear window screen and climbing in.

Fletcher testified she tried to get the gun from Masters when they were in the living room. But he pushed her back and remained in possession of the weapon.

Fletcher picked up her daughter and started to walk out of the living room.

According to testimony, Masters cocked the gun, pointed it at her, and said, "If you walk through that door, you'll be dead.

Fletcher said she returned and sat down.

Thrasher said she left with Masters because she was afraid he would kill her, her granddaughter, and possibly the children.

According to testimony, Masters said, "I didn't say anything about hurting babies."

"You said you would kill their mother," Thrasher replied. "How could you hurt them any worse?"

Fletcher said Masters told her he would go to prison and his life would be over if she called the police. She testified that Masters said he had given a hit man $10,000 to kill her if she called the police.

Thrasher testified that Masters told her more than once on the trip to Alabama and Florida that if she didn't cooperate he would make a phone call and have her granddaughter killed.

After Masters led his wife out of the residence, Fletcher called her husband and explained what had happened. He advised her to call the police, which she did.

Sheriff Hull and deputies treated the incident as a hostage situation until they discovered the couple weren't at the residence behind which Masters had parked one vehicle and switched to another.

Federal authorities were notified and a multi-state manhunt ensued.

Attorney White used a diminished capacity defense.

"The proof won't be that Carter Masters was insane," White said. "It's like a gas tank, not full, not empty, somewhere in between."

Testifying for the defense, a psychologist said Masters knew he was violating the law when he broke into the home and held three of the occupants at gunpoint. But he didn't understand he was committing the offense of kidnapping, according to the psychologist.

Explaining why Masters was in the closet, the psychologist said, "He had two meat pies, a jug of water, and something to urinate in. He was planning to wait in there until Monday, when the granddaughter went to work."

Testifying for the prosecution, a state psychologist who examined Masters said, "In my opinion, he was conscious of his actions. He made plans and acted on those plans. He could appreciate the consequences of wrongful acts. His anxiety was situational. He understood who the actors are in the court process."

"Did you see any signs of diminished capacity when interviewing him?" Burnett asked.

"No, I did not," replied the psychologist. "His thoughts were rational and organized. He believed his wife would fall in love with him while on a trip in a vacation manner."

Judge Burns told Masters, outside the presense of the jury, that he could testify, but if he didn't, the jury couldn't hold it against him. Masters said he wouldn't testify.

In closing remarks, attorney White said, "The proof supports our position. There was such a diminished capacity that he didn't understand his actions were, as we call it, aggravated kidnapping. He might have known they were assault. There was an impairment of his thinking."

In closing remarks, Assistant DA Burnett said, "This example of voting, Bush, Gore, is just another example of him being a bully. Things had to be his way or there would be trouble. He held a gun on a small, innocent child. He blames everyone else for his problems. But his troubles were brought by Carter Masters.

The case went to the jury at 4:20 p.m. on the second day of the trial. A verdict was returned approximately 5 hours later.

As deputies escorted Masters out of the courtroom, he said, "Ruth, I didn't know you wanted to get rid of me that bad."

Judge Burns scheduled November 28 for Masters' sentencing hearing. He will be sentenced as a Range 1 offender, an offender with no prior criminal convictions.

Masters faces a possible 37 to 63 year prison sentence.


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Legislative Body Meeting Held Oct. 9

Overton County Legislative Body held the regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Oct. 9. County Executive Richard M. "Ossie" Mitchell was selected to continue serving as the chairman of the County Commission for the new fiscal year. Commissioner Billy Sullivan was selected as chairman pro-tem.

Committees were approved as follows:

Budget & Purchasing Committee Alan Atnip, David Dorminey, Jean Moore, Wayne Ferrell, Tommy Montooth, and Gregory Nivens.

Solid Waste Committee Alan Atnip, David Dorminey, Billy Sullivan, Gail Arney, and Donnie Bull.

Highway and County Property Committee Frank Martin, Stanley Carter, Billy Sullivan, Gail Arney, and Johnny Webb.

Industrial Development and Planning Committee Frank Martin, David Dorminey, Wayne Ferrell, Gail Arney, and Gregory Nivens.

Education Committee Jean Moore, Grant Pennington, Billy Sullivan, Tommy Montooth, and Johnny Webb.

Public Safety Committee and Beer Board Frank Martin, Stanley Carter, Randall Boswell, Billy Phipps, and Donnie Bull.

Insurance, Delinquent Tax and Tax Base Committee Jean Moore, Grant Pennington, Randall Boswell, Billy Phipps, and Donnie Bull.

Fair Committee Jean Moore, Stanley Carter, Randall Boswell, Tommy Montooth, and Donnie Bull.

County Salary and Employee Policy Committee Frank Martin, David Dorminey, Wayne Ferrell, Gail Arney, and Gregory Nivens.

Veterans Committee Johnny Webb and Billy Phipps.

Elected to the Nursing Home Committee were the following: 1st District - Frank Martin, 2nd District - Grant Pennington, 3rd District - Billy Sullivan, 4th District - Billy Phipps, and 5th District - William J. Webb.

Debbie Maberry was again approved as budget director.

The Commission approved renewing the solid waste contract including amended changes. The price will increase to $35.13 per ton.

The Commission approved charging jail inmates for nurse practitioner services and medication drugs.

The Sheriff Department was given approval to charge $10 per day for inmate work release services.

A resolution was adopted approving a contract with the state of Tennessee for the litter grant in the amount of $33,755.

Commissioners appointed to the Reapportionment Committee are Jean Moore, David Dorminey, Wayne Ferrell, Tom Montooth, and W.J. Webb.

Approval was given to destroy specific old county records as prescribed by law and recommended and approved by the Overton County Records Commission.

Road names approved for emergency purposes only are Midnight Lane, Taylor Spring Lane, Bank Shot Lane, Trinity Lane, and Panther Lane. EEH Lane was approved as a county road.

The Commission adopted a resolution to opt out of the new state law that allows sale of alcoholic beverages to start at 10 a.m. on Sunday rather than noon. This will leave alcohol sales as is in Overton County.

The Commission approved a County General Budget amendment for a $3,000 grant for Overton County Health Department, and an amendment for a $51,000 capital outlay note for patrol cars.

Approved as notaries-at-large are Sue McGee, Penny Harris, Debbie Dunn, John Billings, Lorrie Harris, Sonya Kelley, James E. Hammond, Susan Lingerfelt, and Angie Winningham.

The meeting adjourned.

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