Three more defendants plead guilty in Franklin County veteran's 2017 slaying

Three more defendants plead guilty in Franklin County veteran's 2017 slaying

June 11th, 2019 by Ben Benton in Breaking News
James Leon WoodContributed Photo James Wood

James Leon WoodContributed Photo James Wood

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Three more of the six people charged in the 2017 slaying of a 50-year-old Franklin County, Tennessee, veteran have pleaded guilty to murder charges.

James Leon Wood's body was found Jan. 24, 2018, wrapped in a sheet or blanket and buried under a concrete slab poured over the grave in his own backyard. He had been reported missing about a week earlier but had not been heard from since July 29, 2017. The body was identified as his a few days later.

Wood's wife, Glenna Newingham Wood, was the first to plead guilty to a first-degree murder charge in February. She had been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility for parole. She died in custody less than a month later.

Now, Glenna Newingham Wood's daughter, Mikayla Danielle Harmon Poole and her husband, Grant Matthew Poole, and Shawn Michael Hampton have entered guilty pleas in the case.

On May 30, Mikayla Poole pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder, reduced from the original charge of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison as a standard offender, which means she will be eligible for parole after she serves 30% of the sentence, according to documents filed in Franklin County Circuit Court.

The same date, Grant Poole pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, reduced from first-degree murder, and was sentenced as a persistent offender, which means he must serve 100% of his 42.5-year prison sentence, according to court documents. The original charge and the murder charge to which he pleaded are class A felonies.

Special conditions state that Grant Poole "agreed to plead as a Range III offender, even though he is not a Range III offender, because he believed it was in his best interest and did not want to face more serious punishment," court records state.

Both Pooles were given credit for having been incarcerated from Feb. 2, 2018, to May 30, 2019, and were ordered not to have any contact with any member of Wood's family. All other lesser charges against the two were dismissed as part of the agreement.

On Tuesday, Shawn Michael Hampton, the last defendant facing murder charges in the case, pleaded guilty to facilitation of first-degree murder, reduced from the original charge of first-degree murder, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison as a standard offender, according to court officials. Hampton will be eligible for parole after he serves 30% of the sentence and also was given credit for time already served and ordered to have no contact with Wood's family.

Tuesday's court action leaves only two defendants pending in the case. Kisha Evelyn Anderson and Glenna Newingham Wood's son, Joseph Scott Newingham, are charged as accessories to murder after the fact. Both were released in early 2018 after posting $15,000 bonds.

Steve Blount, the 12th Judicial District assistant district attorney who works out of the Franklin County office, said the end of the case is in sight.

"We anticipate now that the homicide case is concluded, we believe the other cases will be resolved," Blount said Tuesday.

James Wood's slaying drew widespread attention after his mother, Bertha Allen, who lives in New Mexico and couldn't afford to attend his funeral service, voiced her worries in 2018 that her son would be buried unnoticed.

Wood, a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard in Bakersfield, California, who served two military tours, received full military honors at his graveside service in Winchester, Tennessee. More than 300 people and local veterans, including a busload of Vietnam veterans from Chattanooga, attended the service.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.