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WILL JUSTICE BE SERVED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 25, 2105) — The Post & Email recently became aware of a case in Union County, TN, also prosecuted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), which was tried and resulted in a “nolle prosequi” status but is to be retried in April in what could be a violation of the Fifth Amendment‘s guarantee against what is known as “double jeopardy” and amid questions on the composition and function of the grand jury.
For the last six years, this publication has reported on numerous instances of judicial and court corruption in the state of Tennessee, focusing on the hand-selected grand jury foreman but including other violations of law and constitutional due process.
In Tennessee and many other states, indictments are issued by a group of citizens known as a grand jury empaneled by the county to examine evidence of crime brought forward by other citizens, law enforcers, or a prosecutor. The chief prosecutor in a Tennessee judicial district is known as the “District Attorney General.”
The grand jury is mentioned nowhere in the founding documents other than the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Colonial grand juries prohibited the presence of an attorney or government prosecutor during their deliberations unless they specifically called them as a witness. “Presentments” were customarily issued by the grand jury members based on their own investigations conducted independently of government representatives.
In August 2009, Kevin Lee Waggoner moved his family from Indiana to Tennessee, settling in the small town of Luttrell in Union County near Knoxville. A year later, Michael and Theresa Woodby, who were also from a Midwestern state, moved in across the road, known as Highway 370. “There were no issues for nine months,” Waggoner recalled.
Four years later, Waggoner was arrested and charged with first-degree murder of Michael Andrew Woodby, who Waggoner admits to shooting on September 16, 2013. The matter did not go to a grand jury until eight months later, on May 1, 2014, when the Union County grand jury issued a “True Bill” against Waggoner for second-degree murder.
Early on Monday, The Post & Email contacted the TBI’s Media Relations representative to request documents on Waggoner’s case. As of press time, we have received no response.
“It took eight months before it finally went to grand jury,” Waggoner said. “They had to redo grand jury because they found out just a few weeks before trial was going to start that we had a change of DAs and ADAs during the process. They discovered that the first grand jury foreman was out that day, and in Tennessee it is required that the judge appoint the new foreman. That is not the way it was done; they either elected their own or somebody else appointed him.”
“All we know is that they didn’t go to grand jury for eight months, but when they did, the foreman who was supposed to be there wasn’t there.”
Waggoner posted videos on YouTube of the incidents between Woodby and members of Waggoner’s family which he also sent to the Knoxville News Sentinel [Warning: videos contain strong language. Not for children], the district attorney, the TBI, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The Post & Email has reviewed four of the videos, which depict Woodby threatening to harm Waggoner and his son, Kolton; Woodby’s use of obscenities cast at the Waggoners from across the road; and Woodby’s accusing Waggoner of being “a ****** pedophile.”
Waggoner said that he and Kolton would often walk for exercise, during which Woodby “came to the road, screaming at us…then he said he was going to ‘get that boy…you want that boy dead, don’t you? Are you going to miss your son?'”
“He has chased him down the street, calling him a *****,” Waggoner said.
Waggoner related that on one occasion, local police had “driven by” his property when he and Kolton were mowing the lawn. “While we were doing that, he [Woodby] was standing on his front porch screaming at us that he’s going to kill us. ‘I’ve been to jail before; I don’t mind going again if it means taking your life to do it,'” Waggoner quoted Woodby as having said. Waggoner added that the police radio confirmed that he and Kolton were mowing the lawn at the edge of their property at the time.
WBIR characterized the enmity between the two neighbors which culminated in Woodby’s death as “quarreling.” The newspaper also reported that “According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Waggoner was with his son when they confronted Woodby over an unknown incident.” In contrast, Waggoner told The Post & Email that various news reports on the incident are “wrong” and that Kolton was accosted by Woodby while taking an evening walk with Waggoner on September 16, 2013.
In an undated open letter Waggoner submitted four days before the shooting to the Knoxville News Sentinel but not published until the day afterward, Waggoner stated that Woodby had falsely accused him of shooting at Woodby’s five-year-old child and dog, trespassing, and other transgressions. Waggoner’s letter also alleged that a Sgt. Eric Logston, employed at the time by the Union County Sheriff’s Department, had threatened him with arrest should he continue to video-record Woodby’s actions directed at his family and that then-District Attorney General Tracy Jenkins had said of the escalating conflict, “It’s just neighbors being neighbors.”
According to one source following Waggoner’s arrest, “ADA Tracy Jenkins says the DVD and documents only show one side of the story, and that the Woodbys had video cameras as well. She says she has taken evidence to a grand jury on three separate occasions. The grand jury declined each time.”
Waggoner owned and operated a licensed firearms dealership, “the Gun Shack,” located on his personal property in Luttrell. Originally from the Midwest, he told The Post & Email that he moved to Tennessee to live in “God’s country” and enjoy the company of relatives. “We moved down here in 2009. We started a gun store. I passed all FBI background checks and obtained my federal firearms license. This man came over and wanted to buy a gun, and of course, you can’t legally do that with a criminal history,” Waggoner said.
According to Waggoner, the trouble with Woodby began after he refused to sell Woodby a firearm following Woodby’s admission to a history of domestic violence. “He’s had other assault charges other than against us; he’s had more drug charges than I can shake a stick at,” Waggoner said.
“His wife came across the road and said she’d buy it; I said, ‘I can’t do that; it’s against the law.'” They asked if their son-in-law could do it, and I said, ‘No,'” Waggoner told us.
“On one occasion, my son went down to check the mail, and this man and his son-in-law came out yelling and screaming. He threw at least one rock across the road at my son. They called the police, and after the officer arrived, he told me, ‘Yes, they have committed crimes against you. They can’t throw rocks; they can’t threaten you.’ We were video-taping to prove that they were lying on the protective orders they took out,” Waggoner told us.
The Woodbys told the officer that there was a court order against our video-taping them, which was false. There are actually many occasions when they told the police that. Falsifying a report to the police is a felony. The officer then said that if I took any more video, he would come back and arrest me.
We later found out that the officer spoke with the ADA and that she told him, “No, do not take any action against him (Woodby), even if you have to go back out there this weekend.” This was on a Thursday. I ended up getting on the bad side of the DA, and I believe the reason she prosecuted me was that she was upset that I went to the press.
I put it in the paper because it had been going on for a long time. We didn’t call the police every time something happened.
The very first incident was in May 2012, when Woodby told my son he “would blow his GD brains out.” We had a video. The Assistant District Attorney said she didn’t want to see the video, didn’t want to deal with it, and that it was only “neighbors being neighbors.” That’s what went into the press, and that’s what upset them.
I gave the press an hour-long video called, “This is the Truth about Highway 370,” which is where we live. I mailed it to the press, the sheriff, the Department of Child Services – there’s another video we gave to DCS where my son was in his own driveway, and Woodby was in his yard. No issues there, except their five-year-old son – they kept claiming he was five years old; I don’t know how old he really was, but it doesn’t matter – was standing behind him, and Woodby said told my son, “You better run, or I’m about to put a bullet in you,” and the child behind him started screaming, “Yeah, he’s going to put a bullet in you!”
So I contacted the Department of Child Services and said, “I don’t know if this is something you want to deal with or not…” I told her what was going on, and she said, “I’m going to start a report right now.”
The Post & Email asked if Woodby already owned a gun as a convicted felon, which violates federal law, to which Waggoner responded:
We haven’t found anything yet that makes him a convicted felon. Strangely enough, he got arrested for allegedly molesting his wife’s daughter, and somehow or other, that got turned into a “disorderly conduct” charge.
The Post & Email speculated that Woodby had “found favor” with the sheriff’s department and DA’s office, to which Waggoner responded:
Considering that we still have the audiotape of when we called the police one night, because Woodby shot his shotgun off the front porch three or four times and then screamed, “That’s what’s going to happen!…” When the police showed up, he left, and we said, “Isn’t he drunk?” and the officer said, “Yeah, I think he’s been drinking.” So they went and pulled him over. They gave him a 20-second sobriety test which he failed; they determined he could not drive. He supposedly wasn’t drunk enough to arrest, but they wouldn’t let him drive. What did they do? They ended up driving back to his house, picking up his wife, and taking her back to the car so she could drive it.”
Waggoner said that after he refused to sell Woodby a gun, the Woodbys began complaining that the Waggoners’ target practice on their property was disruptive. Waggoner said that during his trial, Theresa Woodby testified that her husband had suffered a heart attack which rendered him “so weak that he could not listen to the gunfire.”
Mrs. Woodby reportedly also said that her husband, in his “weak” condition, walked over to Waggoner’s property and that Waggoner “stuck a gun in his face” and threatened his life. According to Waggoner, Woodby would have had to traverse two hills, one on his property and one on Waggoner’s, to confront Waggoner at his home.
Waggoner cited other alleged inconsistencies with Theresa Woodby’s testimony during the trial. Waggoner said that his attorney at the time asked Theresa Woodby if she “tried to buy a gun from the Waggoners.” “The answer was ‘no’ all five times he asked. In preliminary, and I have the transcript from that, she stated she did try to buy a gun from us,” Waggoner told The Post & Email.
Describing how Michael Woodby lost his life, Waggoner said:
My son and I liked to walk. He was in college and was working at the time, and I was recovering from knee surgery and was told to walk. On the evening of September 16, 2013, at about 9:45, we had seen him go into his house, and my son said, “Would you like to go for a walk?” and I said, “Sure, it’s a beautiful night; I’ll go for a walk with you.”
Woodby came out with a club in his hand, a spindle post from a deck, and he hit my son with it. I ended up between him and my son, and then he came at me, and I ended up shooting him. I don’t like talking about it; it was the worst day of my life.
Waggoner originally retained a private attorney who withdrew from the case after Waggoner spent his savings to pay the attorney’s fees.
In 2012, Waggoner closed the Gun Shack, citing lower-than-expected revenue from the business. As a result of the shooting which ended Woodby’s life, Waggoner was initially placed on administrative leave with pay from his job as a school security officer. However, his status was changed to administrative leave “without pay” following the filing of formal charges of “criminal homicide.”
He is currently working odd jobs to support his family.
A background report indicates that the charge of First Degree Murder was dismissed but that two counts of Second Degree Murder are pending.
A fund drive has been launched intended for Waggoner’s hiring of new private defense counsel. However, since its inception, Waggoner has been assigned public defender Dan Korth. Waggoner has told The Post & Email that he is finding Korth difficult to reach and that only one 15-minute conversation has taken place between them on the case, which is expected to be retried in April.