State appeals court judges have overturned the conviction of a man whom Monroe County, Tenn., authorities charged with homicide after he was the victim of a shooting in 2009.
In an opinion filed April 22, Tennessee's Court of Criminal Appeals threw out Danny Adams' conviction for simple assault, saying the judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury.
The judges said Adams is entitled to a new trial, but he said Sunday he hopes the state will just drop the charge.
"They've put me through enough," said Adams, who still carries a bullet from the fight that left his friend Vince Cole dead. "I haven't been dealt a fair hand in Monroe County at all."
On June 24, 2009, Adams and Cole were at the Hidden Lake Campground, where a crowd had gathered for karaoke. There were run-ins through the night with Joshua Anderson, of Madisonville, that ended with Anderson pulling a .22-caliber Ruger and shooting both men.
Cole died, and Adams was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Monroe County authorities didn't charge Anderson for shooting the two. Instead, they indicted Adams on a charge of criminally negligent homicide, saying he had provoked Anderson into the shooting and thus was responsible for his friend's death.
A jury didn't see it that way. At Adams' trial in August 2012, the jury found him innocent of homicide. He also had been charged with aggravated assault for hitting Anderson, who he said was holding a gun on Cole, but the jury convicted him of the lesser included offense of simple assault.
While Adams appealed the conviction, Cole's family repeatedly pressed the 10th Judicial District Attorney's Office to indict the man who actually fired the shots.
Cole's sister-in-law, Trishe Williams, made multiple trips to the grand jury until Anderson was indicted in July 2013 on charges of second-degree murder and possession of a weapon while under the influence of alcohol.
Anderson's then-wife, Jamie, was charged with facilitation to commit second-degree murder. At Adams' trial, testimony showed she brought the gun from the couple's car sometime before the shooting.
Since then, Joshua Anderson has accumulated new pending charges.
On April 10, 2013, he was arrested with three weapons in Madisonville. Police said he and another man were throwing cinder blocks at cars. Witnesses reported a gunshot, and police found Anderson with a 9 mm handgun and a spent round at his feet. He was charged with three counts each of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
He was arrested April 19, 2013, for having a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic without a permit, and on April 30, 2013, when a deputy found a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, a 2-foot machete and an 11 1/2-inch knife in his truck.
Both arrests resulted in misdemeanor weapons charges.
In the appeals court ruling, the justices said Criminal Court Judge Carroll Ross wrongly instructed the jury about the elements of simple assault and that Adams deserves a new trial.
Prosecutors could not be reached Sunday for comment.
Adams said that if Monroe County authorities had charged the right person after the 2009 shooting, Anderson's later alleged crimes might not have happened.
"He shouldn't have been on the street. He should have been behind bars a long time ago," Adams said.
"I want justice for Vince and for myself -- to this day they haven't charged him for shooting me. That's kind of ridiculous."
Contact staff writer Judy Walton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6416.
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 ...