Jessica Kennedy guilty on lesser charges in Monroe County murder

Jessica Kennedy guilty on lesser charges in Monroe official's murder

Posted: Updated: Aug 20, 2012 08:35 PM
Jessica Kennedy Jessica Kennedy
Jim Miller (source: Daily News Express) Jim Miller (source: Daily News Express)

6 News Reporter

MADISONVILLE (WATE) - A Monroe County jury found a Sweetwater woman guilty Monday on four lesser charges in the murder of a Monroe County official two years ago.

Jessica Kennedy, 28, was found guilty of facilitation of first degree felony murder, facilitation of aggravated robbery, setting fire to personal property and abuse of a corpse.

She had been charged with murdering Monroe County Election Commissioner Chairman Jim Miller in July 2010.

Kennedy will be sentenced on October 3.

Defense attorney John Eldridge said Kennedy was crying tears of relief after the verdict.

Miller's daughter said she thought the verdict was fair.

"It's not everything we wanted, but I feel the jury came back with a verdict as fair as they felt they could," Michelle Miller said. "I always said there will be more to come. I hope when that comes that we'll get a good jury and we'll get the complete justice my dad deserves."

The state says more people were involved in Miller's murder and the investigation will continue to find all the parties involved.

The prosecutor told the jury during closing arguments Monday that Kennedy has criminal responsibility for the conduct of another.

Eldridge said in his closing argument that knowledge is not enough to convict Kennedy of murder because the state must prove she was acting with intent.

Eldridge told the jurors they should also question why former Detective Mike Morgan was never questioned even though Kennedy said he was involved in the crime.

The defense attorney said Kennedy was a fragile girl who had been abused in the past and then was made to witness a crime. He also said Kennedy is clean now and may make something of herself if you set her free.

In the end, the jury decided she had enough involvement in the murder to be found guilty of the facilitation charges.

The trial began Tuesday and included implications of others, accusations of witness intimidation and a witness who failed to show up to testify.

During the trial, jurors also heard a witness claim a former sheriff's officer admitted he was involved in Miller's death.

Former Monroe County sheriff's Capt. Kenny Hope was once a person of interest in the murder, but was later cleared. He took the stand to deny he bragged about shooting Miller.

A psychologist told jurors Kennedy was physically and sexually abused as a child and now has major depression and hallucinations.

Eldridge called for a mistrial Friday because Special Judge Walter Kurtz didn't allow the jury to hear all three hours of a Kennedy interview tape.

Judge Kurtz denied the defense motion, saying his decision not to play the entire tape was supported by law.

In the interview, Kennedy confessed to Miller's murder. Eldridge claims she was coerced to give a "false confession" and maintains she did not kill Miller.

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