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by Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III

The Monroe County, TN murder case against Michael Ellington was decided without a police report having been completed

(Jun. 3, 2011) — Mr. Michael Ellington was set up for conviction. He never had a chance! No one in Ellington’s stacked jury took notes!

There exists no law enforcement report regarding a criminal investigation of the alleged murder for which Mr. Ellington was convicted.

“No one knows the meaning of innocence except those who are” – Anonymous

Obvious facts are most elusive!

It’s very difficult to find facts hidden in plain sight.

It’s even harder to find facts when your paycheck depends upon your not finding them.

In the case regarding Mr. Michael Dewy Ellington we know the following from an eyewitness account which law enforcement officials made no attempt to disprove.

On the evening of March 17, 2009, Julia Ann Kinsey surprise-attacked Michael Dewy Ellington with a large kitchen knife as Mr. Ellington lay down resting.

The event occurred at 1635 Old Highway 68 located in Monroe County, Tennessee, just outside the City of Sweetwater city limits, within the jurisdiction of the Monroe County Tennessee Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Ellington repelled Kinsey’s knife assault twice.

Mr. Ellington, fearing for his life, shot Julia Kinsey when Kinsey made her third attempt to stab him to death.

Ms. Kinsey was drunk when she attacked Michael. Kinsey was also high on a toxic to lethal concentrations of methamphetamines.

Mr. Ellington was stone-cold sober when Kinsey attacked him. Michael’s system was drug-free.

Mr. Ellington’s case came to trial two weeks ago. It lasted two days, 17-18 May 2011.

Sheriff’s Response

Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives took the lead on the investigation. Within a few hours, the detectives had an eyewitness account regarding Mr. Ellington’s act to save his own life against Kinsey’s deadly assault.

Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens and head Detective Michael Morgan dismissed out of hand the notion that Mr. Ellington reacted in a split-second decision recoiling to the surprise knife attack by a drunk and drugged-up attacker.

Bill Bivens ordered Mr. Ellington’s arrest for premeditated first-degree murder. Sheriff Detective Travis Jones effected the arrest in the early morning hours of March 18, 2009. Ellington has been in the Monroe County Jail ever since.

After arresting Ellington, neither Bivens nor any of Bivens’ detectives ever concerned themselves with a proper criminal investigation.

The Post & Email has published a series of reports regarding Mr. Ellington’s case. 

The Main Government Players

R. Steve Bebb is the District Attorney for Tennessee’s 10th Judicial District, which encompasses Bradley, McMinn, Monroe and Polk Counties).

James H. Stutts is an assistant district attorney subordinate to Bebb. Stutts is also former Mayor of the City of Sweetwater, Tennessee. At one time Stutts served as mayor and assistant DA simultaneously.

Amy Armstrong Reedy is a judge who sits on the bench in the 10th District criminal court circuit.

Bill Bivens is the elected sheriff in Monroe County, Tennessee.

Pat Henry is a former Monroe County sheriff detective.

Michael Morgan, Shane Harold, Doug Brannon and Travis Jones are active-duty Monroe County sheriff’s detectives. Morgan is head of detectives.

Gary D. Pettway was the former pretend foreman to the rigged Monroe County Grand Jury.

Martha M. “Marty” Cook is the Monroe County Circuit Court clerk.

Tuesday Night, March 17 – Saint Patrick’s Day 2009

Monroe County Sheriff Bill Bivens took the lead on the case.

Sheriff Bivens allowed chief-detective Mike Morgan to take charge of the investigation.

Sheriff’s Detectives Pat Henry, Shane Harrold, Travis Jones and Doug Brannon worked under Detective Morgan’s command on the Ellington case.

Three theories regarding the episode of Saint Patrick’s Day 2009 have come under public examination.

Three Theories

Theory #1: Mr. Ellington acted to save his own life against Julia Kinsey’s assault with a deadly weapon.

Theory #2 (advanced first by Detective Mike Morgan and his team of Monroe County Sheriff’s detectives and deputies): Mr. Ellington murdered Julia Kinsey. Morgan and his detective team did not believe Mr. Ellington. Instead the sheriff’s criminal investigators embraced this second theory with first-responders’ reaction to the scene. The detectives believed Michael Ellington acted alone. Investigators considered Michael Ellington a liar in his first-person account of self-defense.  R. Steve Bebb puts it this way:  “[Ellington] shot [Kinsey] in the back of the head at almost point-blank range, so that’s hard to believe [that Ellington acted in his own defense].”  Bebb’s subordinate, James Stutts, was more direct, declaring, “It was obviously a murder!”

Theory #3: Mr. Ellington shot Julia Kinsey. Ellington then met with his two brothers. This theory goes that the Ellington brothers conspired together to doctor the scene where Kinsey died. The motive suggested is that the family joined in common cause (that is, murder) to render brother Michael’s account of self-defense believable. James H. Stutts advanced this third theory for the first time publicly in the last 22 minutes of the Ellington trial during closing argument. It’s not known when Stutts’ version was first created or considered except to say this working theory was not on the table on 17 or 18 March 2009.

Sheriff’s detectives jailed Michael in the early morning hours of March 18, 2009, reacting to theory #2. In the minds of Monroe County sheriff’s detectives, Michael Ellington was a liar. “It was obviously a murder,” just because the sheriff said so. Ellington, recognized in the day as acting alone, was convicted on the spot.

Sheriff Bill Bivens with his detective team were tasked upon first contact with the Kinsey-Ellington case to:

1.    Disprove Theory #1: Michael Ellington’s eyewitness account of self-defense; or,

2.    Prove Theory #2: Julia Kinsey was shot and murdered in premeditated fashion at “nearly point-blank range.”

Prosecutor Stutts wanted us to believe that a third theory developed worthy of objective investigation. During Stutts’ final argument, in the last 22 minutes before the case was handed over to the jaundiced jury, Stutts explained that Julia Kinsey never held a large kitchen knife in her hand. This required sheriff’s investigators to:

3.    Prove Theory #2 and then prove Theory #3: The Ellington family, Michael’s two brothers, came to where Julia Kinsey lay dead, and “doctored” the scene to protect Michael from a murder charge.

Whenever or why Theory #3 emerged in the mind of Jim Stutts is not known.

Official Criminal Investigation Report

Chief Detective Mike Morgan failed to file an official report of criminal investigation regarding the Ellington-Kinsey case.

There is no official criminal investigation report to be found filed anywhere.

Bill Bivens and Mike Morgan never properly or objectively investigated anything.

The investigators knew that in Monroe County, Tennessee, with Judges Ross and Reedy sitting on the bench, and with former judge R. Steve Bebb as the District Attorney General, all the detectives had to do to convict Mr. Ellington was to say to folks, “It’s obviously a murder.”

Seven Prosecution Witnesses

The Post & Email has published a series of reports regarding Mr. Ellington’s case in terms of a “trial.” But in reality there was no trial for Michael Ellington.

Judge Amy Reedy, Prosecutor James Stutts, Sheriff Bill Bivens, and District Attorney General R. Steve Bebb, working with other criminal actors, put on a stage play with a make-believe, pretend jury.

No court of competent jurisdiction is found. No competent law enforcement investigation was ever credibly attempted.

Prosecutor James H. Stutts called seven witnesses for the state. In order they were, on May 17th: (1) Dennis Hughes – Emergency Medical Services paramedic, (2) Clint Brookshire – Monroe County road deputy, and (3) Travis Jones – Monroe County sheriff detective; and, (4) Dr. Steven C. Cogswell – Knox County Tennessee deputy chief medical examiner.

The next three prosecution witnesses were called to the stand the following day on May 18th. They were: (5) Douglas W. Brannon – Monroe County sheriff detective, (6) Adam Gregg – toxicological analyst for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI crime laboratory); and, (7) Margaret Massingale – toxicological analyst working with Gregg at the TBI crime lab.

The defense team called no one.

The defense team didn’t have to.

The prosecution knowingly evaded a proper, official and objective investigation regarding the Ellington-Kinsey case.

There is no sheriff’s criminal investigation report filed anywhere!

The Physical Evidence

Monroe County, Tennessee sheriff detectives collected 14 objects as physical evidence in addition to Ms. Kinsey’s body.

Here’s some of what is known regarding those articles as they were displayed in the courtroom: (Object 1) Michael Ellington submitted to a blood draw. (Objects 2, 3, 4) Detectives cut up a wooden bed frame. Parts of the bed frame were displayed—a wooden bedpost, and wooden frame rail sections. One cut-up frame section came from the head of the bed and the other from the right side of the bed.  (Object 5) A large kitchen knife. (Object 6) An old shotgun. (Objects 7 and 8 at least) Shotgun shell fragments. (Object 9 at least) Unexpended shotgun shells.

Each of the 14 physical objects taken into sheriff’s custody were useful only as evidence from which other facts were to be inferred (circumstantial).

None of the 14 articles represented direct evidence of material fact.

Jim Stutts and Stutts’ boss, R. Steve Bebb, realized at the time that unless they sent these materials out for independent and objective crime lab analysis, what they had on their hands was a circumstantial case in its entirety.

From this we know Bebb, Stutts, Bivins and Morgan, working with Amy Reedy, were out to convict an innocent man.

Critical, direct evidence in the Ellington-Kinsey case was available, but never sought.


Sheriff’s detectives discarded (did not examine) many other physical objects that would have been helpful in the course of a proper and professional law enforcement investigation.

Physical objects discussed during the trial are listed below. None of these items were used in any way in the investigation of the Ellington case.

Michael Ellington’s clothing was collected to include his shoes.

Kinsey’s clothing was collected to include her shoes.

Kinsey’s purse and its contents were taken into custody. A labeled pharmaceutical prescription pill bottle was in the purse.

A cell phone was found.

The purse and contents were not examined.

Kinsey’s purse (with contents) was returned to family members.

The labeled pharmaceutical prescription pill bottle was returned to Kinsey’s family unexamined.

None of the clothing articles were used for purposes of investigation. Sheriff Bivens and his boys tossed it all back to family.

From what could be discerned during the trial, Mr. Ellington’s shoes are missing.

At least one evidence property locker receipt is missing.

District Attorney General R. Steve Bebb stated through Sheriff Bill Bivens and Bivens’ detectives that all of the clothing articles were returned to family members.

Interviews and Statements

Michael Ellington gave a voluntary statement to Sheriff Bill Bivens, Chief Detective Mike Morgan and Detective Travis Jones beginning at11:48 p.m. Tuesday evening, March 17, and ending at 12:22 a.m. on March 18, 2009.

Ellington’s 34-minute interview was recorded on a DVD. The unofficial recording is not a part of any official criminal investigation report.

The DVD recording of the 34-minute exchange was entered as an exhibit during Michael’s hearing.

Forensics Laboratory Reports

Three forensics laboratory reports were entered as exhibits during Michael Ellington’s hearing. Only three:

1.     Dr. Cogswell’s autopsy report of Julia Kinsey.

2.     TBI forensic scientist Adam Gregg’s drug analysis report on Michael Ellington (exhibit #57).

3.     TBI forensic scientist Margaret Massingale’s blood-alcohol-content report on Michael Ellington (exhibit 58).

The autopsy report confirmed Kinsey’s identity.

The autopsy report concluded Kinsey died of a gunshot wound to the head.

The round entered just behind Kinsey’s right ear and exited from her left jaw. The round followed at a downward angle straight-line path between the entry and exit points.

Witnesses for the Prosecution

State Witness #1 (Day 1): Paramedic Dennis Hughes explained from memory how Hughes and his partner Carlene Wilkins responded to the emergency services call.

On arrival Dennis Hughes checked for a pulse at Kinsey’s neck (carotid artery).  Finding no pulse, Hughes pronounced Kinsey dead at the scene.

Hughes had no records with him. When asked, Hughes said he didn’t know, and wouldn’t know the time the 911 call came into the EMS dispatcher.

No one in Mr. Ellington’s pretend jury took notes.

State Witness #2 (Day 1): Road Deputy Clint Brookshire was the first Monroe County sheriff to arrive on-scene. Brookshire had two jobs: (1) to take control and secure the area until detectives arrived. Brookshire’s duty was to ensure “no evidence was tampered with” and (2) Open and maintain a log of every person coming and going into and out of the building and room where Kinsey lay.

Brookshire talked about as many as 15 people being on-site, off and on, throughout the rest of the night and into the morning. Deputy Brookshire couldn’t be sure.

Brookshire was expressive when he remarked seeing five supervisors during the night.

Deputy Brookshire recalled seeing sheriff’s department officers Darian Goodman (patrol sergeant shift supervisor), Bryan Graves (chief deputy sheriff), John Wilburn (a sheriff’s captain and supervisor), and B.J. Johnson (a canine interdiction officer).

Ray Haynes took up crowd control, Brookshire said. A deputy named Martin was in attendance. Brookshire remembered seeing Detective Travis Jones, but not for long.

Detectives Doug Brannon, Pat Henry and Shane Harrold were all over the room for a good period of time.

Brookshire reported that Detective Captain Mike Morgan was the first sheriff’s officer to arrive on scene after Deputy Brookshire.

Under cross-examination Brookshire admitted his log record lacked reliable information and was incomplete.

Brookshire’s log was not entered as a prosecution exhibit.

Deputy Brookshire did not take notice of the position of the door entering the room. Brookshire did not notice the position of the shotgun.

Brookshire may have noticed that no one sitting in the jury before him was taking notes.

State Witness #3 (Day 1): Detective Jones told us his job was to conduct interviews of Michael and his brothers.

Travis Jones was on-scene for only  three minutes.  Deputy Darian Goodman transported Michael to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Madisonville. Jones followed Goodman.

Jones supported what road Deputy Brookshire said: Doug Brannon’s detective team processed the scene.

The 34-minute DVD recording was played in the courtroom while Travis Jones was on the stand.

Chief Detective Michael Morgan is shown in the video as the most animated and aggressive interrogator. Mike Morgan worked very hard to force Ellington to say things Morgan wanted Ellington to say.

Jones continued with his narrative after the video ended.

Investigator Jones was the first witness to tell us that 14 articles of evidence were collected.

Travis Jones revealed it was R. Steve Bebb, the district attorney general, who made the call regarding which articles of physical evidence were to be sent out for independent crime laboratory analysis.

District Attorney Bebb directed that only Michael’s blood sample be sent to the TBI crime lab.

Lieutenant Detective Jones said no fingerprint lifts had been attempted off any objects where fingerprints might have been found and captured.

Jones talked about the ability and preference of his Sheriff’s Department to recover fingerprints.

Jones complained about a nine-month turnaround when fingerprints are sent out for to a crime lab for independent and objective analysis.

Then Jones said that not a single one of Bill Bivens sheriff’s detectives attempted any fingerprint lifts on any evidence connected to the Ellington case.

Jones was jittery, flummoxed and visibly uncomfortable in an unbelievable explanation regarding the extraordinarily incompetent breach of basic criminal investigation procedure.

Jones was jumpy as he gave a detailed description of the large kitchen knife covered in blood. It was impossible, said Jones, to capture a fingerprint from an object soaked in blood as completely as that.

So Jones said that no sheriff’s detective tried.

Jones successfully evaded any narration as to why fingerprints were not lifted from the shotgun.

The Ellington stacked jury sat stone still, not one of them applying pen to paper.

Travis Jones gave up that he should have taken photographs of Mr. Ellington on 17 and 18 March 2009, but took no pictures of Michael.

Based on a visual examination only, Detective Jones reported that he did not observe any blood on Michael’s clothing or on Michael’s shoes.

Jones reported Michael’s clothing was collected up and should have been in evidence, but could not explain why that clothing was gone.

Jones identified colleague Shane Harrold as that detective in possession of a receipt for Ellington’s clothes.  And that was it. Detective Shane Harrold did not testify.

The evidence property receipt never made its way into the courtroom.

DNA material was collected, but no DNA tests were conducted.

Noticeably nervous, Jones rifled through his unofficial notes pretending to look for answers which he knew he would not find in his writings. Jones told us his notes were “incomplete.”

Detective Jones had over two years to get his notes squared away.

Jones admitted, “I’m confused,” as he continued to fumble.

Jones told us it was his job to interview Michael’s brothers, but Jones said nothing about whether he carried out those interviews.

No detective took statements from neighbors.

Michael Ellington’s unofficial DVD recorded interview is the only interview record known to exist.

Travis Jones told those assembled more than once that Jones did not file any investigation report.

Jones said Mike Morgan did not file an investigation report.

Jones underscored his exposition by adding that no sheriff’s reports existed regarding any of the 14 pieces of evidence detectives collected in the Ellington case. (Note:  Toxicological forensics experts prepared Michael Ellington’s blood sample lab report.)

Travis Jones admitted he’d personally examined the bed frame rails, shotgun and shotgun shells. Jones made no report of these examinations.

Detective Jones gave up that no Monroe County Sheriff’s report exits regarding the Ellington-Kinsey case.

Jones did not concern himself with ever officially and independently verifying Mr. Ellington’s eyewitness account. Information Jones discerned from Ellington’s narration never became part of Detective Jones’ direct knowledge.

Jones explained that Dr. Cogswell conducted the autopsy examination of Julia Ann Kinsey on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Detective Jones reviewed Dr. Cogswell’s autopsy report later the same day, March 18th.  Detective Jones was the arresting officer and became Mr. Ellington’s accuser. Jones did not record the time of Michael’s arrest. Jones could not recall whether Mr. Ellington was arrested before or after Jones had had an opportunity to read Cogswell’s report.

No detective took statements from neighbors.

No juror took notes.

State Witness #4 (Day 1): Dr. Steven Cogswell went over his autopsy report. Dr. Cogswell’s report was entered as a state exhibit.

The autopsy report confirmed Kinsey’s identity. The report concluded Kinsey died of a gunshot wound to the head.

The round entered just behind Kinsey’s right ear and exited from her left jaw. The round followed at a downward angle, straight-line path between the entry and exit points.

Dr. Cogswell reported Julia Kinsey was legally drunk on St. Patrick’s Day 2009. The autopsy further revealed that Kinsey had toxic to lethal levels of Prozac and methamphetamines in her system when she died.


Editor’s Note: Part 2 of the Michael Ellington trial will be published in the near future.


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  1. Surely an innocent bloke isn’t going to be allowed to spend 18 or so years behind bars?
    I say innocent because he was never going to get a lawful trial.