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By DAMON LAWRENCE
Convicted murderer Jennifer Hyatte is talking about the crime that landed her behind bars for life.
In a jailhouse interview with Nashville TV station WSMV Monday, the former prison nurse talks about how she was courted by prison inmate George Hyatte, who eventually became her husband.
She also speaks about the events that led her to shoot a prison guard in the parking lot of the Roane County Courthouse to help Hyatte escape.
“He said, ‘Well, get me out,’” Hyatte told WSMV. “I said, ‘But I’m trying. I’ve called every lawyer.’ He’s like, ‘No — get me out.’”
On Aug. 9, 2005, she would quench her husband’s thirst for freedom.
Brushy Mountain Corrections Officers Wayne “Cotton” Morgan and Larry “Porky” Harris were escorting George Hyatte through the parking lot that day when they were ambushed by Jennifer.
On her husband’s command, Jennifer said, she opened fire.
“Shoot ‘em; shoot ‘em,” she said her husband shouted.
Jennifer killed Morgan and wounded Harris. She, too, was wounded in the shoot-out.
“I was bleeding, beyond bleeding,” she said. “I had a shirt tied around my leg trying to stop the bleeding. At one point I thought I was going to die.”
The two were on the run less than two days when they were captured in an Ohio motel.
Jennifer would face death again – not from wounds inflicted by gunfire, but from charges filed by the state of Tennessee.
The state sought the death penalty in her first-degree murder case. She avoided that sentence by pleading guilty last September.
She was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She’s incarcerated at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville.
Jennifer has agreed to testify in future proceedings, meaning she could be called as a witness in the case against George.
He’s accused of masterminding the escape.
“George would call me every morning, 6 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “‘What have you done? Have you gotten the money together? Have you gotten this together? Where’s the truck at? Where’s the van at?’”
Jennifer also spoke about instructions she claimed she received from George shortly before the shooting.
“He’s like when I turn around and look at you, you better go,” she said.
The state is seeking the death penalty against George.
His trial is scheduled to start next month, but a delay seems likely because of a change of attorneys.
Almost as interesting as the WSMV interview is the reporter who was conducting it — Jennifer Johnson.
As reporters and TV trucks from around the country descended on the courthouse after the shooting, Johnson — then the spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation — was the key news media contact.
The former TV reporter recently returned to the other side of the camera as a co-anchor for WSMV’s noon and 6:30 p.m. newscasts.
The two-part Jennifer Hyatte interview continued Tuesday (after press time).
The TV station is posting the interviews on its Web site at www.wsmv.com.
Roane County News editor Terri Likens also contributed to this story.