Admisssion heard in Valentine's Day death

Friday, February 23, 2007
Marine Cpl. Amanda Cordova pictured with her mom, Karen Phillips.

The woman charged with murder in her husband's Valentine's Day shooting death at Shelbyville has admitted being involved in the crime, and allegations about the widow's past have been revealed in Marshall County.

District Attorney Chuck Crawford yesterday noted Kimberly Ross' statements, as did Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce on Tuesday. The next day, various aspects of the woman's past behavior, including an allegation of theft at a Cornersville home after the resident died, were described by an acquaintance.

Meanwhile, a Shelbyville woman says she saw a bruised Kimberly Ross with her arm in a sling several weeks before Bill Ross was shot to death in bed at his Wartrace Pike home. The widow claimed she'd been beaten by her husband.

"The only statement that she has made that I am currently convinced is true is her admitted involvement in the crime," District Attorney Crawford said Wednesday. "Everything else is under investigation."

Kimbery Ross, 37, Ashley Mai Cook, 23, of Shelbyville, and Justin Paul Young, 19, originally of Lewisburg, but who'd been living with the Rosses, were arrested on Feb. 15 and charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Bill Ross, 40, who'd been a salesman at the Nissan dealership here. All three suspects are being held at the Bedford County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond each.

As a motive for the shooting death hasn't been publicly stated yet, Crawford said investigators were conducting routine checks to see if there was a big life insurance policy on him.

And as the murder case has shocked Shelbyville and Lewisburg, friends and acquaintances of the victim and his wife have been reporting their experiences with them.

One of them is Marine Cpl. Amanda Cordova who's stationed in Barstow, Calif., but who's from Cornersville in Marshall County where her mother, Karen Phillips, died at home on March 8, 2006.

"Kimberly Ross somehow got her name on a hospital list as a pastor who was to take care of my brother if Mother died," Cordova said Wednesday by phone from California.

"She went into the house and said she was going to get his things [so he could stay with her] but she got her (mother's) jewelry and her files, records, birth certificates, credit card statements," Cordova said. "She took my mom's pistol."

Phillips had a five-shot, .38-caliber revolver, Cordova said, estimating the value of personal belongings taken from her mother's house at some $3,500.

"But we got most of it back," the Marine continued. "My mom would have never been friends with her."

Cordova said her brother had a friend who was living with Kimberly Ross and that's how Ross became aware of Phillips' home and death.

Kimberly Ross drove Cordova's brother to the Nashville airport in Phillips' car to meet Cordova when she arrived on leave after being advised by the Red Cross that her mother had died, the Marine said.

Cordova drove her mother's car back to Cornersville and did stay at Ross' home in Lewisburg one night "because I didn't know what was going on," she said.

"When I saw my mother's stuff at her house, I said, 'Oh no,'" Cordova reported.

Kimberly Ross "said she always wanted a home in Cornersville," Cordova said, apparently unaware that Ross had lived with her new husband, Bill, in the Cornersville area before they moved to Shelbyville.

Cordova spoke of another incident which is substantiated by Marshall County General Sessions Court records.

"She sued people she invited to stay with her," Cordova said. "She sued for nonpayment of rent."

Last year's Lewisburg phone book lists Kimberly Ross at the East Berkley Circle address which was given for William D. Ross on a March 17, 2006 civil warrant by him against Tracy Joe Teal Jr. to recover a debt stated at $3,342.

An accompanying document "In the matter of William and Kimberly Ross vs. Tracey Joe and Christina Teal" alleges the Teals owed: $700 for rent; $610 for utilities; $500 for cellphone bills; $50 for attorney fees; $600 for wedding expenses; $700 for food; $182 for medical costs, and; $200 for transportation.

Kimberly A. Ross' name is typed at the bottom of the document that states she would seek damages "due to slander and stress related condition due to lies told about said Ross and statements made by the Teals that Kimberly Ross was a thief."

Judge Steve Bowden dismissed the case with prejudice on July 13, 2006.

Meanwhile, Vivian Eychner of Unionville has spoken up for Kimberly Ross, saying the murder suspect had been her customer at a beauty shop in Shelbyville.

Kimberly Ross had suffered two black eyes, had her arm in a sling and had just been released from the hospital, Eychner reported she was told by her customer.

Eychner said she concluded the woman had been the victim of domestic violence, although the woman didn't want to talk about it, other than to say, "'They'll have to catch him.'"

Kimberly Ross gave Chihuahua puppies to two stylists at the SmartStyle salon in Shelbyville, Eychner said, apparently aware that Bill Ross had been raising Chihuahuas.

Countering that information implying domestic violence -- as alleged by Kimberly Ross at the time of her arrest -- are statements collected by Sheriff Boyce who interviewed Jimmy Whitmire in the Marshall County Jail. Whitmire is serving time on a kidnapping conviction, but he'd been living in a camper trailer on the Rosses' property on Wartrace Pike.

"He was saying he'd never seen Bill bother her and he didn't think Bill would hurt her," Boyce said.

Justin Young, the 19-year-old suspect charged with Kimberly Ross and Ashley Cook, moved in with the Rosses after Whitmire moved out, Boyce said.

Boyce indicated others had been living with the Rosses, and the sheriff said, "I found it odd; all those kids called him and her 'Mommy and Daddy.' She was pretending to be their mom."

As a preliminary hearing is scheduled on Wednesday next week in Bedford County General Sessions Court, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has the pistol believed to be the murder weapon.

It's a Bersa .38 automatic, a pistol manufactured by an Argentina company, Boyce said, calling it a "good" copy of the Walther PPK, the pistol used by James Bond in the spy novels by Ian Flemming.

Boyce confirmed information indicated by a news photo published one week ago; that Bill Ross was shot in bed, believed to have been asleep.

"If I had to guess, I'd say the first shot was in his side and the second was to his head," Boyce said.

Ross was shot in the head, chest and abdomen. He died in the Bedford County Medical Center.