Updated at 10:37 p.m. on Wednesday, August 29, 2018.
JASPER, Tenn. — In less than an hour, a jury of six men and six women found 53-year-old Angela Kilgore guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder and other felonies in the May 2016 slaying of a 72-year-old Whitwell, Tennessee, business owner.
In their closing statements, state prosecutors and public defenders in the trial painted different versions of evidence in the case.
Twelfth Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Sherry Shelton pointed to testimony from Dale Watts, who visited victim Jerry Ridge's pawn shop to make a payment for another family member, that placed Kilgore and her truck at the scene of the crime. Watts was the first witness to testify about the purple gloves Kilgore was wearing and Kilgore's explanation that they were for treatment of a "poison oak" rash.
A purple glove found at the scene had DNA on it from both Ridge and Kilgore.
That DNA tied Kilgore to the scene and to the victim, Shelton told jurors.
Shelton said the same was true of the DNA found on Kilgore's brown leather boots, identified in testimony and in photos taken of her when she was interviewed May 17, 2016, at the Whitwell Police Department and when she was arrested May 19, 2016, and booked into the Marion County Jail, where they were taken into evidence.
The knife believed to have been to be used in the slaying had both Ridge's and Kilgore's DNA on it, she said. The same was true of a blue plaid shirt found in Kilgore's truck.
In his closing defense statement, 12th Judicial District Assistant Public Defender Norm Lipton questioned whether investigators properly vetted all potential suspects, and he pointed to what he called "oddities" in the investigation.
He said jurors should worry about how many people were tracking DNA into the crime scene during the initial investigation and the time it took for members of the TBI's Violent Crime Response Team to reach the scene.
He questioned the validity of the DNA evidence that he said could have been contaminated with other DNA by "transfer," which a state DNA expert said was possible.
Assistant District Attorney Steve Strain said in the state's final closing statement that the basic elements of the case connected Kilgore to the killing, pointing to the fatal knife and bullet wounds and guns from the pawn shop found in her truck that were recorded in logs at the shop.
He noted DNA from Ridge was on the knife found in Kilgore's pocket two days after the fire and death.
"That is evidence that ties her directly to the murder of Jerry Ridge," Strain told jurors.
Kilgore was arrested in October 2016 in the May 17, 2016, death of Ridge, whose body was found by firefighters inside his State Route 28 business, Valley Pawn Brokers, after a fire. Authorities were suspicious of the fire early on.
Kilgore's jury trial started Monday in Marion County Circuit Court in Jasper, before State Senior Judge Don Ash.
The state and defense rested their cases just before lunch on Wednesday.
Wednesday's testimony began with pathologist Dr. Thomas Deering, who said Ridge had suffered a gunshot wound to his right upper arm that contributed to his death, but a stab wound to the left side of his neck severed his jugular vein and likely was the wound that killed him.
Deering testified Ridge was already dead when his body was set afire.
Though Kilgore was charged in October with Ridge's death, she was jailed May 19, 2016, after she was found in possession of more than a dozen weapons. That violated conditions of her federal parole after an unrelated conviction. Her truck was seized with all its contents.
The guns were eventually tied to the pawn shop, according to testimony.
Two Marion County Sheriff's Office officers — Det. Roger "Chad" Johnson and former correctional officer Paige Durham, now a deputy — testified briefly under direct questioning by Strain and Assistant District Attorney Sherry Shelton.
Under direct examination, Marion County Sheriff's Office deputy Roger "Chad" Johnson testified about contacting a man whose fingerprint was found at the scene but who was eventually determined not to be linked to the crime. The man's alibi was that he was with his probation officer in Campbell County at the time of the slaying and fire.
Johnson also testified about how valuation was applied to the guns taken from the pawn shop, worth an estimated total of $4,728. He said he used well-known gun value references to establish the weapons' worth, according to testimony.
Lipton challenged Johnson's expertise in valuing the guns and grilled him on his contact with the man whose fingerprint was found at the scene.
Lipton and 12th Judicial District Public Defender Jeff Harmon then took on the defense's portion of the trial, beginning with a hearing with jurors out of the courtroom in which Kilgore waived her right to testify in her own defense.
As the defense testimony began, Lipton recalled the testimony of a state witness, TBI agent Kenneth Mark Wilson, regarding a photo of a glove or gloves found at the scene.
Wilson testified the items in the photo were blue, not purple as the gloves worn by Kilgore were described in earlier testimony and shown in other exhibits.
Ronald Inglis, the second defense witness to testify under direct examination by Lipton, said he had driven past the pawn shop the day of the fire and saw a red pickup truck backed up to the front doors. Inglis guessed it was about 4:45 p.m., which would make his driving past about six minutes before the fire was reported.
Inglis — who is something of a truck buff, according to testimony — said the truck he saw backed up to the pawn shop was an older model red Chevrolet pickup truck than the one in evidence.
Under cross examination by Strain, Inglis testified that the speed limit was between 40 and 45 mph and agreed with Strain that he "glanced" over and saw a red truck.
The last witness to testify in the trial was defense witness Randy Mosier, who, under direct examination by Lipton, said he didn't want to be in the courtroom on Wednesday.
Mosier testified that he was at the pawn shop on the day of the fire around 1:15 p.m. and stayed for about 30 minutes.
During his visit with Ridge, he testified that a red pickup truck backed up to the front doors and Kilgore walked into the business.
Mosier testified that everyone was "fine" and that no one was upset or nervous.
He said he noticed that Kilgore was wearing gloves, but he said they were blue, instead of purple, as in earlier testimony.
Kilgore told him the gloves were "for poison oak," Mosier testified.
Under cross examination by Strain, Mosier said he was friends with Ridge and often stopped by to see him, and he said he went to school with Kilgore, though he didn't characterize their relationship.
Kilgore's conviction for first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with the possibility of parole, which is calculated to be 51 years in prison before she would become eligible for parole. She would have to live to be more than 100.
The two murder counts will be merged into one, court officials said.
A sentencing hearing before Judge Ash is set for 1 p.m. CDT on Oct. 29 in Marion County Circuit Court on the other convictions.
After the verdict was read, the victim's nephew, Chris Ridge, said his family "knew the evidence was overwhelming, but until it's all put together, we couldn't see how well the picture would be painted. We thought the prosecutor did a fantastic job of simplifying all the evidence and making it a believable story."
Ridge said the family wanted to thank everyone who has prayed for and supported them.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.