Local News Stories from 92.3 WNPC
Friday, February 21, 2020

Nicky Sutton electrocuted
Nicky Sutton was calm Thursday night as he died in Tennessee's electric chair. The 58 year-old Hamblen County native was put to death for the 1985 stabbing death of fellow inmate Carl Estepp. He was 18 years old when he also killed his grandmother, retired school teacher Dorothy Sutton, and later his high school friend John Large and another man, Charles Almon. Sutton was pronounced dead at 8:26 pm according to the Tennessee Department of Correction. Asked by the prison warden if he had any last words, Sutton spoke at length about his Christian faith. He thanked his wife, his family and "many friends for their love and support as they tried so very hard to save my life." He also spoke about the "power of Jesus Christ to take impossible situations and correct them. I’m just grateful to be a servant of God, and I’m looking forward to being in his presence, and I thank you." A prison chaplain and Sutton's spiritual adviser had served him communion just before he ate his last meal of fried pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy and peach pie with vanilla ice cream. Seated in the electric chair, Sutton closed his eyes as prison officials doused sponges attached to his body with saline solution. Saltwater ran down his face before a pair of officers draped a shroud over his head, which had been shaved earlier. Then his body lifted up as electricity twice jolted his body.

ERA controversy
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has joined with other Republican attorneys general to block efforts to approve the Equal Rights Amendment and make it part of the U.S. Constitution. Slatery is critical of what he calls efforts to "illegally rewrite the U.S. Constitution" to ratify the proposed amendment. The ERA provides that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Virginia last month became the 38th state to ratify the proposal which meets the U.S. Constitution's requirement that 3/4 of the states must approve an amendment before it becomes part of the Constitution. The amendment was proposed to states by Congress in 1972. the Tennessee General Assembly ratified it in April 1972 but lawmakers rescinded their action two years later in April 1974. Now Tennessee and other states are intervening in a lawsuit filed by three states who want the Archivist of the United States, who oversees the ratification process for constitutional amendments, to require he add the ERA to the Constitution. Congress set a 1982 deadline for ratifying the amendment, but proponents argue ratification deadlines are unenforceable. They also argue that rescinding actions taken by Tennessee and other states were illegal. In February, the U.S. House voted to remove the deadline on ratification.

Tennessee has an "effective government"
Tennessee is one of just four states in the nation to earn an "A" for its transparency on budgeting, according to the Volcker Alliance, a national group that promotes effective government. The report grades states' success in pursuing "transparent and sustainable procedures" while keeping revenues and expenditures in balance. Tennessee received A grades on "budget maneuvers" — that is avoiding budget gimmicks to fund operations. Tennessee's healthy reserve funds and associated policies also are lauded, along with transparency in the disclosure of deferred infrastructure, replacement costs and tax expenditures.

TWRA promotes Hammonds
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has promoted Wildlife Officer Shelley Hammonds, a Cocke County native, to the rank of Law Enforcement Major for Region 4. She will manage and coordinate all law enforcement activities within the region covering 21 East Tennessee counties. Major Hammonds began her career with TWRA in 1997 as a wildlife officer in Rutherford Co. and transferred to Cocke Co. in 1998. She is also a Registered Nurse and Paramedic providing a unique skill set within the Agency. She has served as the Region 4 Lieutenant since 2014 with recent responsibilities in developing the Tennessee Wildlife Officer Training Academy in Humphrey's Co. Lt. Col. Cape Taylor says, "The Boating And Law Enforcement Division is happy to have Shelley leading the Law Enforcement efforts in Region 4. Her knowledge and professionalism will be a great asset to the Agency as we move forward."

Ginseng bust
Michael Keith Turner of Hartford, pled guilty Thursday before Senior United States District Judge R. Leon Jordan to three federal felony counts charging that he created false records to conceal illegal purchases of ginseng made prior to the legal harvest season in 2015. The grand jury indictment charged that Turner had violated the Lacey Act, a federal law enacted to combat the illegal trafficking of plants and wildlife while operating his ginseng business, known as “High Mountain Ginseng.” This plea is the result of “Operation Green Gold,” a multi-jurisdiction investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) into the illegal harvesting, trafficking, and smuggling of Ginseng. As part of his plea agreement, Turner agreed to pay restitution to the State of Tennessee and perform 100 hours of community service, and he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 15 years.

Holt indicted
Former Newport alderwoman Kathy Holt, 55, Chestnut Ridge Way, Newport is free on bond following her indictment last week by a Cocke County Grand Jury. The sealed presentment alleges that Holt failed to appear for a hearing in Cocke County Circuit Court on January 13. She was to appear on a probation violation on a previous conviction for three counts of money laundering and a conspiracy to commit money laundering. The probation violation was lodged after Holt was arrested for shoplifting at Walmart. The defendant is to be arraigned next week in circuit court.

Friday, February 21, 2020

  • Nicky Sutton electrocuted
  • ERA controversy
  • Tennessee has an "effective government"
  • TWRA promotes Hammonds
  • Ginseng bust
  • Holt indicted

    Thursday, February 20, 2020

  • Douglas Cherokee commodity distribution
  • Cocke County wheel tax debate
  • Mullins arrangements
  • Sutton execution is still planned

    Wednesday, February 19, 2020

  • Fontes on Mullins
  • Cocke County CLB
  • Catherine Drive fire

    Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  • Mullins killed in officer related shooting in Greeneville
  • Birchfield injured in ATV crash
  • Blackburn and healthcare
  • Higher education means higher income
  • O'Dell is charged

    Monday, February 17, 2020

  • TVA reminds boaters of reservoir dangers
  • Cocke County early voting
  • Southerland legislative wrap
  • Faison legislative wrap
  • Hopland couple still on board the Diamond Princess
  • Hopland couple still on board the Diamond Princess