Insanity defense possible

Thursday, February 7, 2013

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

A month before jury selection is scheduled to start for a murder trial, the defense attorney announced his client may use an insanity defense.

Jerron Braden, 19, is accused of the first-degree murder of Penny Blackwell Coyle on Nov. 21, 2011. His appointed attorney, David McKenzie, filed a motion in Circuit Court Wednesday, stating that he may use an insanity defense.

"They may not actually pursue that," said Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles. "At some point we need to know for sure." Randles went on to say two doctors who examined Braden's mental state were of the opinion an insanity defense could not be supported.

"The new report may say it can," Randles added. "We're getting the report next Friday."

McKenzie and the prosecution team will be back in court on Feb. 20, to tie up the final loose ends before the start of the trial.

"It looks like Braden is a go," said Judge Robert Crigler later on Wednesday, as he rescheduled other trials which had been set for the same day in case the Braden trial fell through.

Jury selection will start Thursday, March 7, and continue on Friday, March 8, if necessary. If jury selection has been completed satisfactorily, opening arguments will begin Monday, March 11.

Courthouse sources say the trial could take up to a week. Documents in the case file indicate there will be a tremendous amount of forensic evidence to present. Experts are likely to testify about records for three cell phones confiscated after the crime, shell casings from several different weapons recovered at the murder site on Rock Crusher Road, blood and fingerprint evidence, and so on.

All state and local law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation: Lewisburg Police, Marshall County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, and the 17th Judicial District Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, so testimony can be expected from one or more members of each body.

Braden turned 18 the day after the murder and the case remained in Juvenile Court until June, when Judge Lee Bowles held a two-day closed-door hearing, after which she decided his case could be transferred to Circuit Court.

The grand jury indicted Braden on one count of first-degree murder in July. TBI Agent Andrew Kon was the witness who made the presentation to the grand jury.

Unsubstantiated information that two or more other people were involved in Coyle's death has been circulating since the murder. The men whose names have been mentioned in this context are all currently behind bars, charged with other crimes.