Luttrell neighborhood feud described at court hearing

Luttrell neighborhood feud described at court hearing for murder suspect

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Kevin Waggoner Kevin Waggoner
Video sent to 6 News by Waggoner purportedly showed Woodby throwing rocks at Waggoner's mailbox. (source: Kevin Waggoner) Video sent to 6 News by Waggoner purportedly showed Woodby throwing rocks at Waggoner's mailbox. (source: Kevin Waggoner)
Victim Michael Woody's widow, Theresa Woodby Victim Michael Woody's widow, Theresa Woodby

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

MAYNARDVILLE (WATE) - A suspended Knox County Schools security officer appeared in court Friday for a preliminary hearing in the shooting death of his Luttrell neighbor.

The body of Michael Woodby, 45, was found around on the night of Sept. 16 on the side of Highway 370 between Ailor Gap Road and Highway 61.

Investigators say the shooting took place during a fight between Woodby and two other men who were walking along the road.

One of the men, Kevin Lee Waggoner, 42, was charged with criminal homicide. Waggoner is a security officer with Knox County Schools.

Hours before the incident, several law enforcement agencies and media outlets received a packet sent by Waggoner containing court documents and a DVD purportedly showing violent incidents between the Woody and Waggoner families in the past.

Family members say the Woodby family shot video as well, showing their side of the story, but that video has not been made available.

Included in the packet were several orders of protection that each side had sought, but none were granted by the court.

The victim's widow, Theresa Woodby, took the stand first on Friday, describing how the relationship between the two families became unfriendly.

She said the relationship worsened after her husband had a stroke and she asked the Waggoners to stop shooting and setting off explosives.

Woodby said they asked the Waggoners to stop videotaping their children, and the dispute became a daily event. She said a month ago, Waggoner pointed a gun at her son.

Woodby said her husband reacted to Waggoner's behavior by praying, yelling or staying inside the house.

The deputy who responded to the shooting then testified, saying Waggoner was very calm at the scene. Four rounds were missing from Waggoner's magazine, and autopsy results showed Woodby had been shot four times, with bullets recovered from his arms, chest and stomach.

When asked where the body was, Waggoner told deputies it was in a ditch. Toxicology reports are not back yet, but the defense say they may explain why Woodby's body was in the ditch.

The defense also claims that since forensic tests aren't back yet, it's not clear if Waggoner's gun was used in the shooting.

The defense also said Waggoner's son was injured and treated at the scene, claiming Waggoner was protecting him because Woodby hit Waggoner's son with a wooden stick. The defense went on to say Woodby could not have been ambushed if Waggoner's son was injured.

The victim's wife, Theresa Woodby, said her husband Michael Woodby was walking with a one and a half inch thick walking stick when he was shot by Kevin Waggoner.

Defense attorney Tommy Hindman says Waggoner shot Woodby to defend his son.  Hindman says Waggoner's son had a head injury from being hit with the stick.

"The only thing he did was protect his son and protect himself. There is nothing premeditated about this," said Hindman.

The state disagrees. 

"Who attacks two people with a stick, knowing both of them have guns?" asked Assistant District Attorney Tracy Jenkins.

Jenkins says Waggoner's account of what happened doesn't match the evidence.

Waggoner claimed to be across the road when he fired the shots but the shell casings were found close to the victim's body. Investigators say the bullets were angled downward.  Four shots total were fired, two to the arms, two to the chest.

"The evidence suggests it was nothing short of a premeditated first degree murder ambush by the defendant of the victim," said Jenkins.

Attorneys also brought up the packet of documents and video sent to several law enforcement offices and media outlets only days before the shooting. The state called it a "premeditation packet."

A detective testified that he'd investigated some of the prior incidents between the Woodby and Waggoner families, but said if there had been any crimes, he would have charged them.

The judge ordered the case to be bound over to the grand jury on first degree murder charges.  The grand jury is expected to make a decision at the beginning of next year.  If there is a trial attorneys do not expect it to start until the end of next year.

The judge also ordered for Waggoner's bond to remain at $250,000.  Hindman expects Waggoner to make bail.

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