Tennessee Supreme Court affirms convictions and death sentences for Howard Hawk Willis

Tennessee Supreme Court affirms convictions and death sentences for Howard Hawk Willis

July 6th, 2016 by Staff Report in Local Regional News

Attorney Jim Bowman, from left, and Howard Hawk Willis listen to testimony in this 2010 file photo. Willis is on death row in the dismemberment deaths of a teenage couple. Photo: Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Howard Hawk Willis

Howard Hawk Willis

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

The Supreme Court of Tennessee has affirmed the convictions and sentences of death for Howard Hawk Willis for killing two teenagers from Walker County and dismembering one of them. 

Willis was convicted in 2010 by a jury in Washington County on two counts of premeditated murder and one count of felony murder in the perpetration of a kidnapping for the 2002 deaths of Adam Chrismer, 17, and his wife, Samantha Chrismer, 16, according to a release. 

Willis was sentenced to death on each conviction and in 2015 the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and sentences. 

Willis argued the trial court should have excluded inciminating statements he made to his ex-wife because she was acting as an agent of the government at the time they were made. 

He made the comments during in-person meetings with her at the Washington County jail and at a facility in New York as well as during recorded phone calls from jail. 

The court held there was no violation of Willis' right to counsel and noted he had made some of the statements before he was indicted and had no constitutional right to counsel at that time. 

After he was indicted, the state discouraged the ex-wife from having any contact with Willis and the proof showed only that the state accepted information from a cooperating witness.