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Murder trial a go April 3 — maybe

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By Damon Lawrence

The Ralph O’Neal murder trial is on the docket for the current Roane County Criminal Court term, but prosecutor Bill Reedy isn’t overly optimistic.  

“At this point, it’s a yes, but you got to understand that this case involves multiple people who are in federal custody,” he said. “Getting these people back from the feds for trial purposes is like trying to orchestrate the thing (sequester) that’s going on in Congress right now.”  

O’Neal is accused of killing Ronnie Dean Cofer in August 2007. Cofer’s body was discovered in a ditch on Clax Gap Road. Roane County Sheriff Jack Stockton said Cofer was shot.

The trial is scheduled for April 3.  

“There’s probably a 30- to 40-percent chance that it won’t go, but I’m saying I can get ready and his attorney is saying he can get ready,” Reedy said.

O’Neal won’t be going free if he’s found not guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison on federal drug charges in 2011.