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Howard Hawk Willis

Tennessee's Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Howard Hawk Willis, sentenced to death in the 2002 dismemberment killings of Walker County, Ga., newlyweds Adam Chrismer and Samantha Leming Chrismer.

In the teens' slayings, a skull and a pair of hands were found in Washington County, Tenn.'s Boone Lake and the rest of their bodies were found stuffed into plastic containers in a Johnson City mini-warehouse.

Willis challenged his conviction on 20 grounds, ranging from claims that the trial court shouldn't have let him defend himself or denied his motion to suppress his statements to challenges of various aspects of his 2010 trial and to assertions that the state's death penalty statute is unconstitutional.

The appeals court rejected them all and confirmed Willis' conviction. He is on death row at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.

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