- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014
Haslam signs supermarket wine bill into law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Folks waiting for the neighborhood grocery store to stock their favorite merlot or chardonnay may have to wait a little longer even though Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a law to allow supermarket wine sales in Tennessee.

The legislation signed Thursday grants authority to cities and counties that have package stores or liquor-by-the-drink sales to hold referendums on whether to allow wine sales in supermarkets. Even so, the earliest wine can be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores is the summer of 2016 - or a year later if they are located near an existing liquor store.

Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey told reporters Thursday that lawmakers may consider moving the date up.

“I predict that something may happen on that,” said the Blountville Republican. “I just think that people won’t understand why the grocery stores agreed to a year and a half delay.”

The delay was to give liquor stores time to prepare for the competition.

However, Mitchell McDannald of Nashville said he hopes he can buy the wine sooner. He likes the wine sold in Trader Joe’s stores and currently drives nearly four hours to Atlanta to get cases of it because he can’t get it at any of the Trader Joe’s stores in Tennessee.

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Sheriff: Johnny Cash’s great-niece found dead

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The great-niece of the late singer Johnny Cash has been found stabbed to death and stuffed in a box in a house, authorities in Tennessee said Thursday.

Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews said Courtney Cash’s body was found Wednesday morning in a home near Cookeville, about 70 miles east of Nashville.

Cash’s body was found in a chest just inside the front door, Andrews said. A man identified as William Austin Johnson, Cash’s boyfriend, was being treated for stab wounds at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Andrews said.

Andrews said the pair had gone out with a friend before an altercation took place in the house where Johnson and Cash lived with their young child. The friend, identified as Wayne Gary Masciarella, has been charged with first-degree murder.

Johnson escaped the attack and took the child with him before driving to the hospital, Andrews said. The scene inside the house was “somewhat bloody,” Andrews told reporters at a news conference.

“There was a struggle,” the sheriff said.

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Naval Academy midshipman not guilty in sex assault

WASHINGTON (AP) - A former U.S. Naval Academy football player was acquitted Thursday of sexually assaulting a classmate at a party, bringing to a close a case that drew wide attention at a time when the military is under scrutiny for how it deals with sexual assault.

The judge overseeing the case, Col. Daniel Daugherty, acquitted Joshua Tate of Nashville, Tenn., of one count of aggravated sexual assault. During a three-day trial, prosecutors argued that the woman Tate was accused of having sex with was too drunk to consent. But Tate’s attorneys disagreed, arguing the woman was in control of her body and making decisions for herself at the party in 2012 where the alleged assault occurred.

The judge said in announcing his decision that the case’s facts “present difficult and complex questions.” And he said that the vast majority of testimony at the trial, testimony by midshipmen who attended the party, was shaded by alcohol consumption and the passing of time. But the judge concluded prosecutors had not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required for conviction.

One of Tate’s attorneys, Jason Ehrenberg, said the 22-year-old’s reaction to the decision was “one of great relief,” and he called his client a “good young man.” An attorney for the woman at the center of the case, meanwhile, said in a telephone interview that “deeply disappointed doesn’t adequately describe” her reaction to the outcome.

The case was being closely watched as the military tries to improve the way it handles sexual assault cases. A Pentagon report released last year estimated that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted in the prior year and that thousands are unwilling to come forward out of fear their careers might be derailed.

Just hours before the verdict in Tate’s case, a separate court-martial at Fort Bragg, N.C. also ended in favor of the defense. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair was reprimanded and docked four months’ pay but avoided prison time for carrying on a three-year affair with a captain who later claimed she had been sexually assaulted.

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Former Bolivar City Council member convicted

SELMER, Tenn. (AP) - Prosecutors say former Bolivar City Council member Brenda Woods has been convicted of procuring illegal voters in municipal elections.

Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich says in a news release that Woods was found guilty Tuesday in a McNairy County court.

Witnesses said Woods took them to the polls to vote for her in early elections for mayor and city council in May 2009. They said they told Woods about their felony convictions, but she assured them they could still vote.

An investigation showed the three voters had cast ballots illegally because their voting rights had not been restored.

Woods was convicted on the charges in 2010 but was awarded a new trial on appeal two years later. She faces up to six years in prison at sentencing April 11.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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