JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A hefty pile of legal folders containing documents charging Billy Joe Anderson with multiple crimes lay on the table before a frustrated Deputy District Attorney General for 1st Judicial District Dennis Brooks Friday morning.
Eight folders for six crimes committed between September 2021 and January 2022 were bound over to a grand jury.
Before Anderson was charged with the death of Brionah Tester, he was able to bond out of jail each and every time he committed a crime since September of last year.
Prior to his second-degree murder charge after Tester’s death, Anderson was convicted on four charges in May 2013 that stem from charges back in 2011.
- Attempted Burglary – 3 years
- Attempted second Degree Murder – 13 years
- Burglary – 2 years
- Theft of Property – 1 year
Robert Reburn, the East Tennessee Region Public Information Officer for TDOC said Anderson was ordered to serve the attempted second-degree murder charge and the attempted burglary charge concurrently and simultaneously for a total of 13 years in a TDOC facility. After that sentence, he served probation for the burglary and theft of property charges.
The probation was to be served consecutively for a total of three years.
Anderson was admitted to TDOC custody in August of 2013 at Morgan County Correctional Complex (MCCX), Reburn reported.
Return added that Anderson was transferred from MCCX to Turney Center Industrial Complex (TCIX) in July 2014, to Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (TCCC) in July 2017, to West Tennessee State Penitentiary (WTSP) in March of 2019, to Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) in September of 2019 and was released from HCCF Sept 2021.
It was later that same month Anderson would commit his first offense.
“Ultimately, it’s our responsibility in my opinion, to know that this guy has prior charges that he’s on bond for and he’s committing new cases,” Brooks said. “As a matter of routine as an office, we don’t go into our portal access with, that we share with Tennessee Department of Corrections. I missed the fact that he was supposed to be on probation.”
Anderson was arrested six times between September and January of 2022 and is facing 18 different charges on four dates.
“So at some point he gets out of prison and was supposed to be on probation during this whole time period that he’s committing these crimes,” Brooks added.
Despite all of his criminal history in the state of Tennessee, Anderson was allowed back on the street each time after posting bail. His bond never surpassed $30,000.
“I had a stack of files that shocked me, quite frankly, in a look through I didn’t see any they all got bound over the same day they waive preliminary hearing. And I couldn’t see any evidence that our office had tried to do anything on the bond,” Brooks said.
He was assigned the case in February and immediately filed a motion to revoke Anderson’s bond. Unfortunately, it was too late to save Tester.
“I filed that motion in February to be heard on his first court appearance in criminal court April 4th. Miss tester was killed on March 18,” he said.
The DA’s office would not have known of Anderson’s extensive criminal history if Brooks hadn’t strayed from routine.
“As a matter of routine as an office, we don’t go into our portal access that we share with Tennessee Department of Corrections. I missed the fact that he was supposed to be on probation with the state because back in 2011, he was alleged to have committed a home invasion shooting case,” Brooks explained.
Aside from that, Brooks explained that the justice system in the 1st Judicial District is antiquated and inept to handle the vast amounts of cases faced by the criminal court circuit.
“In some ways, we’re still prosecuting things like it was 1985. We have paper folders, files that go back into an office storage area that are hard to access. And meanwhile, we’ve got a computer system that we don’t utilize nearly enough between the four counties that if we’re putting information in early, we can catch stuff like this,” Brooks stated.
Brooks said that he has a plan.
“Just as you came in here today, I issued a long email to all the assistant DA’s laying out the ideas that I’m intending to implement and giving this case as an example of why we need to be looking to modernize some of the things we’re doing and why it’s important for the prosecutor working on a case in Elizabethton to be entering information about their case. So people in Jonesborough can catch it quickly because they don’t have time to do a big case history search.”
It’s not going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight, Brooks added. Plus, every employee would have to enter case information into the system for the system to be effective.
“This guy pled in 2013. So it’s a little problematic to go back and start entering everything that’s in the past 10 years. You know, but if you start doing it now, then 10 years from now, maybe you’re catching stuff on this, maybe you’re catching the fact that ‘hey, we stuck a probation sentence way out there because nobody’s gonna remember in 10 years, and you can’t just go back and look for the file because it’s hard to find them,” he said.
It was unclear to News Channel 11 why Anderson’s probation officer did not pick up on any of the 6 arrests that occurred since September of last year.