published Monday, October 31st, 2011

Trial in beating death of a man during a Bledsoe County cookout set today

  • photo
    Lonnie Angel Jr., left, is facing trial this week in the 2009 beating death of Donny Lawson during a cookout at Angel's property in Pikeville. At right, is Angel's defense council, Jim Smith, speaking to Circuit Court Judge Rusty Graham.
    Photo by Ben Benton.
    enlarge photo

A Bledsoe County man goes on trial today in the 2009 beating death of a man during a cookout, according to court records and officials.

Lonnie Lee Angel Jr. is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder and kidnapping in the February death of 43-year-old Donny Lawson, court records show.

Angel, one of four men charged in Lawson's death, was placed on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's most wanted list and taken into custody three days after the slaying. Preston Parker, Ray Tullos and Clinton Watson already had been arrested on murder charges, court records and newspaper archives show.

The deadly fight happened Feb. 21, 2009. Investigators said at the time that the men had gathered at Angel's property for a barbecue. They began arguing over a 2008 fire that killed a member of Angel's family, investigators said.

Deputies were called and found Lawson unconscious, lying in a pool of blood. He was pronounced dead at Erlanger's Bledsoe facility in Pikeville, Tenn.

Two other defendants already are serving time for the slaying, officials said.

Tullos was found guilty of attempted second-degree murder and was sentenced in October to 11 years in prison, court records state. Parker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison, according to court officials. Watson's case is pending.

The trial at the Bledsoe County Courthouse is set to begin at 9 a.m. CDT before Circuit Court Judge Rusty Graham.

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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