Sullivan indicted on voluntary manslaughter

Friday, April 24, 2009

The man charged in a Cornersville shooting death was indicted Wednesday by the Marshall County Grand Jury on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Feb. 15 death of his stepson.

"Donnie Sullivan was indicted," District Attorney Chuck Crawford said Wednesday afternoon when he explained Sullivan had been arrested on a charge of felony homicide. That covers all aspects of murder except justifiable homicide.

Sullivan, 52, of 115 Beechwood Avenue, Cornersville, was arraigned on the more specific charge by Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler that afternoon when he considered the defendant's petition to be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

"Have you hired an attorney for Circuit Court?" Crigler asked.

"No," answered Sullivan, who explained that his father had paid for the law firm of Bussart and Bowles to represent him in General Sessions Court.

Crigler questioned Sullivan about his financial circumstances and learned that Sullivan has filed for divorce from his wife, Wanda, the mother of the victim, Timothy Swaw. Sullivan and his wife jointly own a house and three acres, which are paid for, and two vehicles, which are not. He said their joint bank account is empty, though recently it had as much as $32,000 in it.

"I got no money coming in," said Sullivan, when Crigler asked him about income.

"I'm not comfortable with assigning the public defender with the kind of assets you have," said Crigler.

"If she gets it from me I won't have nothing," said Sullivan

"You can consult with your divorce attorney to get your share of the assets back," Crigler said, ruling that Sullivan could be represented by the public defender's office, but that he would have to pay $100 per week for this service.

Sullivan's booking form from the Marshall County Jail says he is "disabled" and he was using a cane to help him walk in the courtroom Wednesday, but told the judge he had no income, not even from disability benefits.

Meanwhile, grand jurors decided to issue "no bill of indictment" against one defendant, a relatively uncommon move but one Crawford endorsed.

"The Grand Jury rightfully asked for more information about that case," the prosecutor said.

As for whether the case will be brought back to the Grand Jury, Crawford said, "It depends on what this additional information reveals to us."

Grand Jury deliberations lasted more than three hours on Wednesday, according to Deputy Clerk Jenise Nelson in Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Brandon Foster's office. Foster said that's longer than usual since grand jurors are usually finished with their monthly meeting in 60-90 minutes.

Other indictments handed down by the Grand Jury include

* Gary Wayne Armstrong, 50, Pippin Drive, Nashville. Aggravated assault on Kenneth Pugmire, Aug. 23, 2006.

* Anise Lea Hurt, 25, 7th Avenue North and Coleman Street, Lewisburg. Assisted David Allen Mencer in committing an aggravated burglary and exercised control of stolen property belonging to Robert and Linda Lashwood, Emily Whitesell, and Melissa Clifford.

* Terry James Kelso, 25, Wiles Lane, Lewisburg. Aggravated child abuse, reckless endangerment, and driving on suspended.

* Bobbie Kay Lopez, 37, Adams Road, Belfast. Six counts of obtaining prescription drugs by "fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge" from five different pharmacies in Lewisburg.

* Christopher Todd Mercer, 22, Trumann, Ark. Statutory rape.

* Demetrie Darnell Owens, 27, who is being held by the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Theft from Randall and Kathy Baker.

* Sonny Wayne Smith, 29, Finley Beech Road, Lewisburg. Felony harassment - he communicated by letter with the woman he had been jailed for harassing.

* Kacy Renee Cantrell, 25, Cornersville. Two counts of initiating and promoting a process to manufacture methamphetamine. Cantrell is also named in another indictment for manufacturing methamphetamine and possessing the drug with intent to deliver.

* Ellis Randall Darnell, 33, Spring Place Road, Lewisburg, and Jason Dwayne Morgan, 22, Yell Road, Lewisburg. In addition to manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver, Darnell and Morgan are charged with possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a felony.

* Adrian Bennielle Hill, 29, Crick Street, Lewisburg. Sold and delivered crack cocaine to a confidential informant working for the 17th Judicial District Task Force.

Indictment does not mean the defendant is guilty. That's determined by a jury, or a judge on a petition from a defendant who's decided to plead guilty.

Senior staff writer Clint Confehr contributed to this story.