Read Judy Walton's "Justice in Question" series about Steve Bebb and the 10th Judicial District.
MADISONVILLE, Tenn. — A man shot in a 2009 fight won't get a new trial on his conviction for trying to knock down the gunman who wounded him and killed his buddy but was never charged.
Criminal Court Judge Carroll Ross on Monday refused to grant a new trial for Danny Adams on his September conviction for assaulting Joshua Anderson. The case now will go up for review by a three-judge panel of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, assistant public defender Jeanne Wiggins said.
Meanwhile, relatives of Vince Cole, Adams' friend, who bled to death on a gravel parking lot at the Hidden Lake Campground in July 2009, say they aren't giving up their campaign to see Anderson charged in the case.
"I told [10th Judicial District Attorney General] Steve Bebb he'd let Josh Anderson get away with murder," said Cole's stepfather, Reece Williams, standing outside the Monroe County Courthouse on a sunny Monday afternoon. Bebb has declined to comment.
In September, a Monroe County jury decided it wasn't Adams' fault that Anderson shot him and Cole in July 2009.
Prosecutors blamed Adams for the shooting, claiming he provoked a beer-fueled feud with Anderson on a hot weekend night at the campground in Tellico Plains, Tenn.
They charged Adams with criminally negligent homicide in his friend's death and with aggravated assault against Anderson.
The man with the gun never even was interviewed for the investigation. He wasn't charged with the shootings, or with carrying a weapon in a place where alcohol is served or carrying a concealed weapon.
He testified at the trial that he and his then-wife, Jamie Anderson, tried to leave the campground but were attacked by Adams and Cole.
He said the shooting was self-defense, but others testified that Jamie Anderson went to their vehicle and brought back a gun that she gave her husband, and that Josh Anderson followed Adams and Cole around the building and drew down on them.
Jurors at Adams' September trial didn't buy the prosecutors' theory, refusing to convict him of homicide and reducing the felony assault charge to a misdemeanor.
Monday, Wiggins asked Ross to toss out the conviction.
"The assault [by Adams] was not a precipitating act; the assault was a consequence of Joshua holding a handgun," she said. "The proof shows that Danny Adams was shot and carries a bullet as a result of that interaction."
Assistant District Attorney Jim Stutts said there was "incontrovertible proof" that Adams hit Anderson, which is all the jury needed to convict him.
Ross declined to overrule the jury's verdict.
"They [the combatants] were in a bar; there was some yah-yahing going on," Ross said. "The proof was contradictory," but the jurors had enough information to make a decision, he said.
Afterward Reece Williams and his daughter-in-law, Trishe Williams, who was Cole's sister-in-law, said the ruling was a setback but they'll keep pushing to get Anderson charged.
Trishe Williams ticked off what she's done so far: gone before the grand jury herself, met with Bebb multiple times and begged his office to bring charges or appoint someone else to do it.
"They told us that because Josh was the victim of a misdemeanor assault [by Adams], they couldn't go forward" with charges against him for shooting Cole.
She pointed out that Anderson was arrested last week after motorists said he and another man were throwing cinderblocks at passing cars in Tellico Plains.
Deputies found Anderson with a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun, a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a .22-caliber derringer and found a fired 9 mm shell at his feet. Anderson is charged with three counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment but not with weapons counts. His companion was charged with possessing a firearm while intoxicated and two counts of aggravated assault.
"If law enforcement had done their job, this wouldn't have happened to another person," Trishe Williams said.
Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...