Lewisburg man to stay in prison, says appeal court

Friday, September 7, 2012

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A Lewisburg man whose victim was saved by a Good Samaritan neighbor recently had his appeal for post-conviction relief denied by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Nashville.

Jerry Lee "Spider" Hunter, 52, of 1st Avenue North, was charged with attempted first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and especially aggravated robbery in connection with the December 2009 stabbing of Cleveland Holder.

On June 28, 2010, Hunter's case was set for trial, and the jury had been selected and sworn in, but negotiations for a plea were still going on. Finally an agreement was reached. The prosecution dismissed the first two counts, and Hunter pleaded guilty to especially aggravated robbery. The sentence agreed to for him was 18 years, of which he was to serve 100 percent.

On appeal, Hunter's attorneys argued that his entry of a guilty plea was unknowing, involuntary, and unintelligent, because he did not receive the effective assistance of counsel. Appeals court judges upheld the decision made by Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler.

According to the Tribune's story at the time of Hunter's guilty plea, Holder, 52, was stabbed in the neck and upper right arm at his home, on 1st Avenue North, and Hunter robbed him of $150. Holder managed to walk next door, where neighbors Linda and Tommy Wallace called 911 and maintained pressure on Holder's neck wound until emergency services arrived. Holder was taken by Air Evac helicopter to Vanderbilt where surgeons repaired his neck. He was out of hospital and recuperating well within four weeks of the near-fatal stabbing.

Lewisburg Police Detective Sgt. David Henley was in charge of the investigation.

Documents in the case file reveal that Hunter's daughter approached officers at the crime scene and told them her father was "intoxicated and covered in blood" at their residence, also on 1st Avenue North. Hunter was taken into custody at 7:45 p.m. Crigler signed a search warrant at 11:45 p.m. and enough evidence to charge Hunter was found. The blood on the black and silver folding knife found in Hunter's possession was later analyzed at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab. The DNA of the blood sample was an exact match to the sample provided by Holder.

Hunter told law enforcement officials that he acted in self-defense because Holder hit him with a bat, according to records in Hunter's case file.

Hunter was unable to make the $150,000 bond that was set for him, and remained jailed. He was represented in court by Michael Collins and Bill Harold of the Public Defender's Office. Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard prosecuted the case.

According to his jail intake sheet, Hunter is 6 feet 6 inches tall and has tattoos all over his body. Hunter's criminal record covers three pages in his case file, starting with a conviction for disposal of a dead body in Perry County in 1983, and going on to burglary, grand larceny, assault, possession of a weapon, driving under the influence, driving on revoked, and public intoxication.