ALTAMONT, Tenn. - A jury of eight women and four men on Wednesday took an hour and a half to find Martin Dean "Cub" Meeks guilty of first-degree murder in the June 14, 2009, shotgun slaying of 79-year-old Carl "Carly" R. Winton.
Under state law, Meeks must serve a life sentence in a conviction for first-degree murder.
The three-day trial started Monday in Grundy County Circuit Court before Judge Thomas W. Graham. The prosecution rested its case late Tuesday after putting at least a half dozen witnesses on the stand.
According to testimony from state and defense witnesses, Meeks and Winton had been at odds for about a month prior to the day of the shooting, a Sunday when Meeks and several others were working on property adjacent to Winton's mobile home.
According to testimony under questioning by Assistant District attorneys Steve Strain and David McGovern, Meeks had been drinking that day and registered a blood-alcohol content of between 0.12 and 0.17 five hours after the shooting.
State witnesses testified that Meeks and Winton had a heated argument, then Meeks walked about 150 yards to his mother's home, retrieved a 20-gauge shotgun, loaded it and stuffed five more shells into his pocket and returned to the argument with Winton.
After a second exchange, words became more heated and the shot was fired, according to testimony. A revolver was found on the ground near Winton, but no witnesses testified that Winton was seen holding it before the shot was fired.
Winton was lying near his porch dead, with a cigarette still in one hand and a lighter in the other, according to testimony.
On Wednesday, Public Defender Phil Condra called four witnesses to the stand, including Meeks.
Meeks' mother had given Winton permission to put his mobile home on her property 25 to 30 years ago, and Meeks, 55, testified that he had known Winton since childhood and had hunted and fished with him all his life.
Meeks said that the dispute with Winton began weeks before with horses Meeks had brought to the property, and escalated when he started clearing off the land and burning some of the dilapidated buildings.
Meeks said he told Winton that if he didn't like what was going on he could leave and move his mobile home.
Meeks testified that on the day of the shooting Winton was gone part of the morning but when he returned "he started cussing us again."
"I was mad," Meeks said. Meeks testified that he knew Winton to carry a pistol but admitted he hadn't seen it on that day.
After he returned to Winton's yard with the shotgun, Meeks testified that Winton said, "I'll kill you, d--- you, Cub," and started reaching into his pockets.
Meeks said he was defending himself.
After the verdict, Strain said members of Winton's family were "very relieved" with the verdict.
"They felt there was no reason to have killed Carly Winton and they feel the verdict was just," he said.
Meeks family members left the courtroom before they could be asked for a reaction to the verdict.