Local News

  • UPDATE — Smoot found guilty of first-degree murder; sentencing phase resumes Thursday morning

    Shawn Smoot was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday afternoon for the death of Brooke Nicole Morris.

    Criminal Court Judge Jeff Wicks sent the group of seven women and five men back to the jury room to start deliberating at 12:30 p.m. Their guilty verdict was read in court a little after 4 p.m.

    Tina Gregg, the victim's mother, hugged Assistant District Attorney Generals Bob Edwards and Tiffany Smith following the verdict. Edwards and Smith handled the case for the state and gave poignant closing arguments on Wednesday.

  • Jury deciding Smoot's fate

    Shawn Smoot's fate is now in the hands of a Roane County jury.

    Criminal Court Judge Jeff Wicks sent the group of seven women and five men back to the jury room to start deliberating at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    Smoot is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brooke Nicole Morris. Her body was found at the intersection of Blair Road and Old Blair Road in Roane County on Oct. 15, 2011. She was shot three times, with the final shot coming execution-style to the back of her head.


    Candlelight vigils often happen in communities after a tragic event occurs.

    That wasn’t the case Monday at Roane State Community College.

    Community leaders, church leaders and law enforcement personnel gathered to promote unity in Roane County.

    “This is an awesome, awesome gathering tonight,” event organizer Ron Berry said.

  • Witness: Smoot ‘shaky, sweaty’

    The state rested its case Tuesday morning in the Shawn Smoot first-degree murder trial.

    Amy Denlinger was the final witness who testified for the state. She worked as an insurance producer at Smoot’s Allstate Insurance office in West Knoxville.

    Brooke Nicole Morris, the woman who Smoot is accused of killing, also worked at the office. Morris was found shot to death at the intersection of Blair Road and Old Blair Road in Roane County on Oct. 15, 2011, which was a Saturday.

  • DA looking into OS pursuit that ended in fatal crash

    The District Attorney General’s Office plans to look into last week’s fatal car crash that claimed the life of a Harriman man.

    The wreck happened Friday on Hwy. 61 around 12:30 p.m.

    According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, 37-year-old Martin J. Palenski was behind the wheel of a Ford Taurus that hit an embankment and rolled over.

    Palenski reportedly hit some power lines after being ejected from the car. He died at the scene.

    His passenger, 41-year-old Julia A. Davis, was injured.

  • Massengill’s last school board meeting to be in his district

    District 7 Roane County Board of Education Member Everett Massengill had no idea the July 14 meeting would be his last one at the Edward E. Williams Building in Kingston.

    In honor of Massengill’s many years of service, Board Chairman Darrell “Drack” Langley scheduled this month’s board meeting at Midway Elementary School, which is in Massengill’s district.

    “I didn’t even think about that,” Massengill said, about his final meeting at the Williams building.

  • Roane’s early voting turnout light

    Fewer than 5,000 people voted early for the Aug. 4 Election.

    “I hope Thursday’s turnout is better than early voting,” Roane County Administrator of Elections Charles Holiway said.

    While he’s hopeful, Holiway recognizes it’s probably unlikely based on what has happened in past elections.

    “The history so far has been basically 50 percent or more vote early,” he said.

  • From the EDITOR’S Desk: Take note of new ash pond plan

    The announcement by TVA last week that it would move forward with a plan to close and cap 10 coal ash ponds on TVA property at a half dozen coal-fired power plants has some environmentalists nervous.

    The decision follows a yearlong period of review and public comment. I attended one of these public comment events in Oak Ridge earlier this year and spoke with environmentalists about their concerns.

  • Affair ended Smoot marriage

    Shawn Smoot’s ex-wife, Dr. Michelle Hall, testified in his first-degree murder trial on Friday.

    Smoot is accused of killing Brooke Nicole Morris, with whom he had an affair while married to Hall.

    Morris worked for Smoot at his Allstate Insurance office in Knoxville.

    Hall learned about their affair on Jan. 4, 2011, following a phone conversation with Morris. Hall separated from Smoot the next day.

  • Pinnacle Pointe case not resolved

    Years after mediation seemed to settle an ongoing legal dispute between the city of Harriman and developers of Midtown’s Pinnacle Point shopping center, officials are still attempting to close that chapter of the city’s history.

    While the parties appeared to agree on the mediation, the case is still open.

    “While an agreement was reached at that mediation, an order was never signed and submitted to the Court to confirm the mediated agreement,” said Harriman City Attorney Allison Rehn.