published Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Elizabeth Hardnett slaying case sent to grand jury

  • photo
    Robert Hardnett waits for his turn to be heard in front of East Ridge Judge Arvin Reingold who was sitting in for the late Judge Bob Moon early Tuesday morning. Hardnett is charged in the shooting death of his wife.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A judge sent a murder charge against a 50-year-old Chattanooga man to the grand jury Tuesday.

Robert Lee Hardnett, 50, faces a criminal homicide charge in the Feb. 13 shooting death of his wife, Elizabeth Hardnett, 34.

On Tuesday in court, Hardnett spoke briefly to his court-appointed attorney, Assistant District Public Defender Alan Dunn, but said nothing openly.

Grand jury decisions on indictments typically take four to six weeks. If indicted on the charge of criminal homicide, Hardnett’s case will be sent to Criminal Court, where pretrial preparations begin.

In court, Chattanooga police Officer Leslie Corbin testified before Judge Arvin Reingold, a private attorney and an East Ridge city judge who was filling in for newly appointed General Sessions Judge David Norton.

Corbin said that while he was booking an unrelated suspect into the Hamilton County Jail on Feb. 13, Hardnett turned himself in at the front desk and said he’d killed his wife.

Corbin took Hardnett’s information and called supervisors to investigate. While waiting to take Hardnett for questioning, Corbin said the man said, “She was living with a preacher.”

Hardnett’s brother, Lebron Hardnett, told police that his brother said, “I did it. I killed her,” when he came to the house on Feb. 13. He was staying with his brother during the separation from Elizabeth Hardnett.

Homicide Detective Justin Kilgore testified Tuesday that he inspected the crime scene, Robert Hardnett’s workplace, the Power Supply Co. at 1907 Daisy St. in East Chattanooga. Kilgore said he saw at least four gunshot entry wounds in the center of Elizabeth Hardnett’s chest, and a 9mm handgun lay atop a desk near the building’s entrance.

Robert and Elizabeth Hardnett had been married for 18 years and had separated about two weeks before her death. On the day of the shooting, she picked up her husband from work after 5:30 p.m. Also in the car were three of their children, a 12-, 14-, and 15-year-old, Kilgore said.

The couple dropped off the kids at Hamilton Place mall, Kilgore testified, then returned to the business, where they had told Elizabeth’s mother earlier that day that “they were going to spend some time together that evening.”

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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