published Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Suspect sought in Marion slaying

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    Jarrod Dejuan Pickett faces charges in the slaying of Kenneth Hudson in Marion County, Tenn.

Marion County authorities think they know who shot Jasper resident Kenneth Hudson, but they're still trying to determine why.

Jarrod Pickett has been charged with criminal homicide in the shooting, Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said Tuesday, but his whereabouts were unknown at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Authorities said they believe Pickett is driving Hudson's pickup truck and that he is armed. They do not, however, believe that the shooting was part of a carjacking.

Pickett, who is from Marion County, was recently released from prison, said Marion County Detective Chad Johnson. He was sent to prison after being picked up in 2006 for burglary, which violated his parole on a 2005 conviction of possession of methamphetamine, Johnson said.

Hudson, whose body was found Monday along Old Shellmound Road between Interstate 24 and the Nickajack Dam, was killed with a firearm, but officials are awaiting autopsy results to determine what kind, Burnett said. Hudson was shot in the head.

Johnson said Tuesday that several juveniles witnessed the shooting. They identified Pickett as the killer, and told investigators that the shooting occurred about 8 a.m. CST Monday at the location where the body was found -- but Johnson said their account is incomplete.

"The witnesses began talking and then refused to tell any more until they'd hired an attorney, so we only have half of their story," said Johnson.

The relationship between Hudson and Pickett has not been confirmed, Johnson said.

Hudson still had his wallet with him, though there was no cash in it.

"It's kind of isolated; there's not many houses," said Burnett, who said he was raised with the 50-year-old Hudson and his brother, Steve.

The brother is the victim's only local family, he said.

While authorities found witnesses, they're still looking for Hudson's missing black 1994 Chevrolet pickup truck with license plate number 312-TYR.

Johnson said he also was trying to pin down Hudson's last known whereabouts.

"I'm running down some phone numbers, some of the last people he talked to on the phone," Johnson said. "We're trying to get some phone records to get an idea of who he was talking to and what he was planning to do."

He said the last phone call Hudson made was around 8 a.m. CST Monday, around the same time authorities believe he was shot. Johnson said the call was to one of the witnesses, who had been with him in his truck.

Johnson said Hudson used to own a restaurant in Jasper and was known around the community. Hudson lived just inside the Jasper city limits on the north end of town on Francis Spring Road.

Staff writer Kate Harrison contributed to this story.

CONTACT LAW ENFORCEMENT

Anyone with information on the slaying of Kenneth Hudson or the location of the victim's black 1994 Chevrolet pickup truck bearing license plate number 312-TYR should call the Marion County Sheriff's Department at 423-942-5667.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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