Triple homicide suspect pleads guilty to probation violation

Cocke County triple homicide suspect pleads guilty to probation violation

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Adam Lawton Edwards (source: Haywood County Sheriff's Office) Adam Lawton Edwards (source: Haywood County Sheriff's Office)

NEWPORT (WATE) - One of the suspects in a Cocke County triple homicide pleaded guilty Tuesday to violating his probation.

The Cocke County court clerk says Adam Lawton Edwards, 43, was in court Tuesday, and he was ordered back to prison for failing to check-in with his parole officer.

Edwards and Marsha Gail Shelton, 29, were arrested in North Carolina in connection to a Cocke County homicide.

The bodies of the victims, Terri Henderson, her boyfriend Sherman Ellison, and their two-year-old son, Riley, were found after their mobile home burned in May.

Under the law, Edwards was eligible in July 2011 for an early release from prison. At the time, Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes says he wrote a letter about Edward's "good behavior" while in his custody. Edwards earned his early release.

Sheriff Fontes said Wednesday that Edward's early release agreed with sentencing guidelines and could only be authorized by the circuit judge and the district attorney's office.

"I also wrote behavior recommendations for other inmates during the same time frame," Sheriff Fontes said in an email. "I did not create this monster or contribute to his criminal behavior. Prisons and jails all across the nation are overcrowded and early releases are granted daily."

Judge Ben Hooper ordered Edwards back to prison. He's the same judge who agreed to Edwards' early release.

At the time of the early release, Judge Hooper said Edwards didn't have a lengthy criminal history. He had two pages of charges, but all were dismissed.

Judge Hooper also said Edwards had more than 700 days of credit, and the system would have released Edwards in a few more days anyway.

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