published Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Shannon Ory guilty of minor charge

Shannon Ory
Shannon Ory
Photo by Dan Henry.

Shannon Ory's trial played out like the plot of a Lifetime movie, complete with a threatened mistress and allegations that he plotted to kill his wife himself, then tried to hire it done.

But the jury saw it differently at the end of the four-day trial. After four hours of deliberation, jurors on Friday found Ory guilty of reckless endangerment for the Dec. 16, 2009, severe beating of his estranged wife, Kristina Speights.

Ory had been charged with attempted first-degree murder and attempted especially aggravated kidnapping. The attempted murder charge carried a 15- to 25-year sentence.

Reckless endangerment is a misdemeanor. Because Ory has been in custody for a year, he's likely already served whatever sentence he receives on March 19.

Jurors declined to comment when leaving the courthouse late Friday.

Ory's attorney, Ben McGowan, said he would be "discussing appeal options" with his client.

Speights said she "respected the jury's decision."

Ory still faces charges that while incarcerated in the Hamilton County Jail, he tried to hire a fellow inmate to kill Speights. He is still in custody.

Evidence of the murder-for-hire allegation was not admitted in this trial.

In closing arguments, McGowan pressed at previous testimony and evidence. His theory was that it was a setup; that Speights had someone beat her and help plant evidence to get Ory out of her life and away from their two children.

But prosecutors Lance Pope and Cameron Williams dissected McGowan's theory. They returned to the brutal account that Speights described and the testimony of Ory's former mistress, who said Ory told her he'd tried to kill his wife and threatened her to keep her quiet.

The pair had separated two months before the attack on Dec. 16, 2009.

Speights was leaving her parents' Old Hunter Road home before 7 a.m. when she stopped to move garbage cans in the driveway. She got out of her Chevrolet Tahoes and was attacked by a masked man wearing gloves who punched and choked her, slammed her head into the pavement and tried to run her over with her own car three times.

Speights escaped and the man ran away. She called police and said she thought the attacker was her husband.

Police searched Ory's Flag Crest Drive home and found a wet driveway and back steps on a dry day, along with a wet long-sleeve shirt with Speights' blood on the sleeve.

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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