published Monday, November 25th, 2013

Niota man facing federal child porn, drug charges; Terry Lynn Hayes, 44, seeks pretrial release today

A prominent Niota, Tenn., businessman accused of having sex with underage girls after giving them drugs and taking sexually explicit photos of them on his cellphone will appear in federal court today to request pretrial release.

Terry Lynn Hayes, 44, is the owner of a chain of excavating and heavy equipment companies, including Terry's Dirt Works and Terry's Resource Management, located around Harvey, La., and Niota.

He is charged with one count of transportation of child pornography; one count of possession of child pornography; one count of unlawful possession of a firearm; two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine to a person under 21 and six counts of distribution of a controlled substance to a person under 21.

On Oct. 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter ordered Hayes held without bond after hearing testimony from FBI Agent Scott Barker and Hayes' live-in girlfriend.

The agent said Hayes had photos of two girls, ages 14 and 15, posing in sexual positions, stored on his cellphone. Barker also produced a photo of four girls -- ages 15, 16, 17 and 19 -- posing with weapons near a surface littered with drugs, which was reportedly taken at a July 31, 2012, party at Hayes' Niota home.

Barker told the court that a 14-year-old who appeared in the photos was given Xanax and cocaine before having sex with Hayes. She was reportedly found disoriented in Dayton, Tenn., the day after the party. Police took her to the hospital, and Barker said drug and rape test results were positive for drugs and male body fluids.

Barker also said a 15-year-old from the photos admitted having sex with Hayes. The 19-year-old female reportedly arranged for the younger girls to be at Hayes' parties.

Carter also cited statements by Brittany Nicole Smith, who has reportedly lived with Hayes since December 2012 and who was at Hayes' Niota residence the night that authorities arrested him.

According to court documents, Smith's meth pipes were found at Hayes' house. She originally told police she was not a meth user, but then admitted using meth the night before Hayes' arrest.

At that hearing, two area city officials vouched for Hayes.

Dunlap Mayor George Land testified he has known Hayes since the early 1990s. He said he has done business with him and occasionally socialized with him. He said he had never known Hayes to be dangerous. Land later told the Times Free Press that his relationship with Hayes was strictly professional.

Dayton Vice Mayor Steve Randolph, Haye's certified personal accountant, also said he has never known Hayes to be a danger. Randolph said he believed Hayes would cooperate and make all court dates, since he has frequently traveled between Louisiana and Tennessee to do business. Randolph also said Hayes lives next door to his elderly parents in Niota and is not likely to run and leave them abandoned.

However, Carter declined to grant bail, saying the character witnesses "were obviously not aware of what allegations are present in this case."

"He lives with a person who is using crystal meth. Testimony indicates the defendant is providing drugs to underage children. There are photographs of these children with drugs around and there are photographs of these children naked, engaging in some sexual contact," Carter wrote in his detention ruling.

"I conclude that there is no condition or combination of conditions that can ensure the safety of the community or his presence at future hearings."

Hayes' attorneys -- Howard L. Upchurch, of Pikeville, Tenn., and Stephen T. Greer of Dunlap -- filed an objection to Carter's detention order on Oct. 10, saying it "is contrary to law and clearly erroneous in light of the applicable law and the evidence presented."

They said if Hayes were truly a threat to the public, he would have been detained without bond when Tennessee Highway Patrol officers arrested him in September 2012 after finding drugs and a gun in his truck.

They noted that the evidence used in the September criminal charges originally was found on Aug. 7, 2012, and that his lack of previous criminal conduct, absence of drug history and appearance at prior local court proceedings proves he is not a dangerous individual or flight risk.

Upchurch and Greer did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this report.

Hayes' hearing is set for 3 p.m. today before U.S. District Judge Harry S. "Sandy" Mattice Jr.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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