- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015
Killer who said he blew out couple’s brains appeals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee death row inmate who told his ex-wife he blew out the brains of teenage newlyweds now says his confession should be thrown out because she was working with law enforcement.

Defense attorney Kathleen Morris told the Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday that Wilda Gadd was acting as an agent of the state, just like a police officer, when she recorded Howard Hawk Willis saying, “Yeah. I blew their brains out.”

Willis was in custody at a jail and had invoked his right to an attorney, Morris said, so he should not have been questioned without an attorney present, even by Gadd.

James Gaylord, of the Tennessee Attorney General’s office, argued that Willis never expressed a clear and unequivocal desire for an attorney. Willis asked relatives to find him an attorney during phone calls from jail that police listened in on, but Gaylord said those conversations were not sufficient to qualify as invoking a right to an attorney.

Willis was convicted in the October 2002 slayings of 17-year-old Adam Chrismer and 16-year-old Samantha Leming Chrismer, of Chickamauga, Georgia. Adam Chrismer’s head was found in an East Tennessee lake and his hands were discovered nearby. Their bodies were found later in a Johnson City rental storage unit.

Investigators said Willis and the newlyweds met while they were living in northwest Georgia. They said Willis killed the Chrismers at his mother’s home in Johnson City.


Developer: We’re addressing issues in fair-housing lawsuit

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The president of an Alabama-based development company said Thursday that the firm is committed to addressing issues outlined in a federal housing discrimination suit.

Gateway Construction Corp. President Amy Montgomery said the company was cooperating with a Department of Justice investigation of properties throughout the Southeast when it was named in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“To our knowledge nobody has complained about our housing - none of our residents, no applicants or anything like that,” Montgomery said.

The lawsuit alleges that Gateway and its affiliates used federal tax credit incentives to build complexes that posed significant barriers to the disabled, including improperly sloped pathways, bathrooms that presented maneuverability barriers and inaccessible parking.

The lawsuit lists 36 properties in Alabama, 25 in Georgia, nine in North Carolina and one in Tennessee.

Many of the issues mentioned in the lawsuit are minor and the company never intended to discriminate against anyone, Montgomery said.


Tennessee Valley Authority prepares for possible heavy rains

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Valley Authority says it is taking proactive measures to prepare for possible heavy rains from Hurricane Joaquin, which is churning in the Atlantic and moving toward the United States.

The TVA said in a statement that even if the storm doesn’t directly hit the region, it could have a significant impact due to runoff from expected heavy rains. Some forecast models predict several inches of rain on the eastern side of TVA’s territory by Sunday.

The nation’s largest public utility said reservoir levels are being lowered to provide room for the extra water.

TVA supplies power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.


Donald Trump to speak at Franklin rally

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) - The Williamson County Republican Party says GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump will attend a rally this weekend in Middle Tennessee.

Media report Trump will speak at the Saturday afternoon rally at the Factory at Franklin.

Williamson County Republican Party Chairman Julie Hannah Taleghani said there will be about 2,000 free tickets handed out and that those without tickets will be able to gather in the parking lot.

Trump was last in Tennessee in August, when he spoke at a conference in Nashville hosted by the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

The Tennessean reports he will be the sixth presidential candidates to visit Williamson County in three months.

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