A Knoxville man facing a second-degree murder charge in Cocke County failed to show for a plea hearing in Cocke County Circuit Court on Monday, so a warrant was issued for his arrest.
In January, Scott Elliott Wardley, 29, and Clara Catherine Coe, 23, allegedly sold heroin and methamphetamine to Ashlen Moore, an 18-year-old Cosby woman who died the following day.
During a court hearing in July, Assistant District Attorney Tonya Thornton told Judge Carter Moore that the drugs sold by the defendants is “the proximate cause of death. They unlawfully distributed heroin and methamphetamine.”
The defense attorneys, public defender Keith Haas and attorney Brett Cole argued unsuccessfully the autopsy showed Moore had potentially lethal levels of Xanax, meth and heroin in her bloodstream.
The autopsy showed that Moore died of pulmonary edema caused by an accidental overdose. The defense attorneys argued there is no way to determine which drug killed Moore, so they asked that the charges be dismissed.
Moore declined to dismiss the charge, but allowed the issue to be appealed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals for an expedited review. The appeals court recently declined to hear the case.
In court on Monday, Cole said during the last contact he had regarding Wardley, he was told that the defendant was homeless, and he has not recently had contact with him.
Moore also addressed the case of Gary and Geraldine Ridens, both 62, Maple Ridge Way, Newport, who are charged with attempted arson and reckless endangerment in an alleged attempt to destroy the Brandywine Steakhouse and Tavern in January. The couple also is charged with tax fraud.
The judge said he is a member with Ridens in the Kiwanis Club, and his bluegrass band also played at the Tavern previously. Still, Moore said he does not see those associations as a conflict to him hearing the case. He said the recusal issue will be further addressed at a later date.
Also arraigned was former Cocke County corrections officer Kelton Townsend, 29, Clinch View Road, Morristown. He is charged with aggravated assault and official oppression in an alleged body-slam incident during the booking of Jerry Miller of Woodlawn Avenue, Newport.
The judge delayed a padlocking hearing on a residence on Epley Road owned by Carl Sisk because of the lengthy docket. The delay gives Sisk time to obtain legal counsel.
The padlocking motion came in response to an investigation by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Department “after numerous complaints by concerned citizens, drug overdoses, stolen vehicles and drug-related arrests from the residence over the past two years,” Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes said.
Judge Moore also issued arrest warrants for a number of defendants who did not appear in court;
The no-shows were Scott E. Wardley, Philip Luke Shropshire, Randy William Schoolcraft, Anthony Neil McKinney, Gail Roberts, Derrick Lee Robinson, Casey Rollins, Jordan Askew, Aaron Blanton, Darrell Jenkins, Joseph McGaha, Brandy James, Chelsea Jolene Lane, Christopher James Smith, Brittany Reese, Oscar Toscar, Michael Smelcer, Jerry Dwayne Teague and Justin Michael Webb.