Knoxville man loses appeal to overturn murder conviction

Knoxville man loses appeal to overturn murder conviction


NASHVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Supreme Court has denied an appeal by a Knoxville man to have his felony murder conviction overturned.

In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected claims by Travis Kinte Echols that his conviction should be reversed because police lacked probable cause when they arrested him in 2005.

Echols also claimed several errors were made during his 2009 jury trial.

Echols was convicted of murdering Robert Steely on June 18, 2005 in the parking lot of the Townview Towers apartment complex.

During his interrogation by police, Echols had waived his right to remain silent and admitted shooting Steely, claiming that he acted in self-defense.

When his case went to trial, the jury didn't believe his self-defense claim and found him guilty of felony murder during the perpetration of a robbery.

During an appeal to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, justices of that court agreed that police lacked probable cause for arresting Echols and that his statement should not have been admitted at trial. Despite those errors, the appellate court affirmed his conviction, saying the improper admission of the statement had no effect on the verdict.

In the Supreme Court's opinion written by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, justices said the police had established probable cause to arrest Echols and that his statement was admissible at trial.

To read the opinion at

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