GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Court officials have announced the charges for a juvenile arrested in relation to an April double homicide in Greene County.
On May 12, the Greene County Juvenile Court issued a statement to media that the 16-year-old juvenile suspect has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
The suspect was in a juvenile detention hearing Thursday. The court heard testimony from four witnesses and “found that there was probable cause to believe the Juvenile committed the offenses,” read a statement given to News Channel 11 by Judge Kenneth Bailey.
The suspect will remain housed in a juvenile detention facility until a transfer hearing on August 23, 2022.
The teenager could be tried as an adult pending the results of that transfer hearing. The district attorney’s office previously told News Channel 11 that they had plans to try the suspect as such if possible due to the nature of the crimes.
A status hearing has also been set for July 19 in Greene County court.
The incident from which the juvenile’s charges stem occurred at a home on Old Snapps Ferry Road in Limestone. The victims were identified as 7-year-old Jessie Allen and his grandmother, 59-year-old Sherry Cole.
Petitions filed in court state that the suspect had previously admitted to investigators to killing both victims with a hammer and planning to commit the crime earlier on April 24.
Police found the bodies of Cole and Allen outside their Limestone home in the early morning hours of April 25. The suspect was taken into custody when police arrived on the scene.
The juvenile petition for charges the crimes “premeditated and intention.”
While no attorneys directly involved with this case were able to speak with WJHL after court today, we did speak with a Johnson City defense attorney who works with juveniles often.
Grace Studer tells us the process of transferring a teen to adult court is complicated and at a transfer hearing three things have to be established by the State.
“First that the child committed the offense, second that they are not committable to a mental institution, and third that it would serve the interest of the community for them to remain detained,” said Studer.
Family members who attended court today did not wish to speak with us after court concluded, all looking shaken up after an emotional day in the courtroom.
Studer says there is a lot for the court to consider when deciding if a juvenile should be tried as an adult.
“It was against a person which is considered much more serious and will weigh in favor of transferring to adult court,” said Studer. “Whoever his defense attorney is is going to point out, what was his home life like?”
If the case goes to trial in adult court, the highest possible sentence the teenager could face if convicted would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.