Tennessee seeks death penalty against McMinn quadruple murder defendants with trial date set for September 2023

The state is seeking the death penalty against a pair of defendants charged in the Sept. 25, 2021, slaying of four people in McMinn County, Tennessee, in a dispute over a 10-month-old child, and the trial has been set for late 2023 or early 2024.

Jazzmine Jacole Hall, 27 of Athens, Tennessee, and Curtis Donnell Smith, 39 of Etowah, Tennessee - each charged on indictments with four counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated arson - face a trial date Sept. 11, 2023, followed by a second trial date of Feb. 6, 2024, in the event Hall and Smith are tried separately or other scheduling conflicts occur, according to a scheduling order signed in February by Criminal Court Judge Sandra Donaghy.

The case was sent to the McMinn County grand jury on Oct. 7 after Hall and Smith waived their rights to a preliminary hearing, court records show.

The pair are charged in the shooting deaths of Trevon Hall, 36, Skylar Hawn, 24, Jesse Dupree, 40, and Brandi Harris, 39, who were found dead in a home on County Road 60 in the county's Riceville community. The baby is the child of the now-dead Trevon Hall and suspect Jazzmine Hall, according to investigators.

(READ MORE: Deadliest week in McMinn County history leaves six dead, five jailed)

District Attorney Stephen D. Crump was tight-lipped on the capital case now that the state is seeking the harshest punishment.

"Because this is a death penalty case, I will not comment beyond what is a matter of public record," Crump said Monday in an email. "We have filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty."

The notice was filed Jan. 10, according to court officials.

Originally arrested on four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in September 2021, the indictments against Hall and Smith issued by the grand jury in December added charges of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated arson and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for Smith, court documents show.

The kidnapping charge relates to the baby being taken by the pair and the aggravated arson charge stems from allegations Hall and Smith attempted to set fire to the County Road 60 mobile home where the shootings took place, according to court records.

Hall's attorney, Chattanooga lawyer Brian Hoss, and Smith's attorney, Knoxville lawyer Wesley Stone, did not immediately respond to requests Monday for comment on the case.

Court officials said Monday in a phone conversation that a defense motion was filed May 25 seeking to separate the cases for prosecution, but the state had not filed a response to that motion as of Monday.

The slayings happened in the Riceville community sometime before 9 a.m. at a home on sparsely populated County Road 60, a mile-long road that crosses Rogers Creek Ridge west of Interstate 75, where deputies answering the call found two witnesses who escaped the shooting, one by climbing through a window and the other who pretended to be injured, and directed officers to the home where the shots were fired, authorities said at the time.

According to court records, Jazzmine Hall was seen by one of the two surviving victims - a man and a woman - opening the door to the mobile home with a gun in hand. When she saw the father holding the child, Hall took the infant and then shot the baby's father in the face, documents state.

Hall then handed the firearm to Smith and told him "to finish them off," court documents state.

That victim told the case investigator Smith "began shooting everybody in the residence," documents state. The female survivor of the incident told authorities when Smith shot at her, she played dead.

Hall and Smith then took the child and fled. The baby was later recovered and turned over to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, authorities said.

The next pretrial motion hearing is set for July 8, followed by additional motion hearings set Sept. 16 and Dec. 5 this year, and Feb. 6 and May 8 in 2023, according to court records.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.