Teenager accused in Coyle murder

Friday, December 23, 2011

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A young man who was 17 at the time of the shooting, but has since turned 18, was taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Nov. 21 shooting death of Penny Blackwell Coyle.

Jerron Braden of Lewisburg appeared shackled in Juvenile Court in front of Judge Lee Bussart Bowles. Standing with him was a representative of the department of Children's Services and a court appointed attorney.

According to a press release from Sheriff Norman Dalton, Detective Bob Johnson served "a juvenile petition for criminal homicide" on the young man, who remains in the custody of the Department of Children's Services at an undisclosed location.

Juvenile suspects are, technically, not arrested. They are taken into custody on a petition to the Juvenile Court asking that they be declared delinquent because the act for which they are accused would be a crime if they were an adult.

"The court will be asked to transfer the juvenile to an adult court at a later hearing," wrote the sheriff. This hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 30, with Judge Bowles presiding.

Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles spoke for District Attorney Chuck Crawford when requesting a hearing to determine whether Braden should be tried as an adult on a homicide charge.

What started shortly after 10 p.m. Nov. 21 as a "suspicious person" call turned into a homicide investigation when Marshall County Sheriff's deputies found Coyle slumped over on the driver's side of her vehicle on Rock Crusher Road with a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

It's since been learned from her daughter, Robin Coyle, that Penny Coyle suffered three gunshot wounds.

Detectives from the Lewisburg Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation assisted Sheriff's Department detectives at the scene.

Jerron Braden's name was obtained from three sources who are not employees of the court system, the state or law enforcement. While it is illegal for such employees to violate the confidentiality of a juvenile petition, there is no such restraint for others. And while juvenile court records are to be kept confidential, when civilians are subpoenaed to a juvenile hearing, that document is beyond control of record holders.

It's rare for the Marshall County Tribune to publish the name of a juvenile suspect. An exception is the serious felony involving bodily harm such as the wounds suffered by Penny Coyle.

The investigation into her violent death is ongoing, Dalton said, adding that anyone with information about it should call the CrimeStoppers Hot Line at 359-4867. Information received by volunteers who are not law enforcement agency employees can and will remain confidential. Cash rewards are secretly paid for information leading to the capture and arrest of suspects.

Tribune Senior Staff Writer Clint Confehr contributed to this story.