Local woman pushes to get son's alleged killer back in jail

Local woman pushes to get son's alleged killer back in jail

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Mother fights to put son's alleged killer behind bars Mother fights to put son's alleged killer behind bars
CARTER COUNTY, TN (WJHL) - Julie Ott is fighting to put the teen accused of killing her son back in a Juvenile Detention Center. Ott and other members of the community are circulating a petition in hopes of persuading a criminal court judge to revoke the alleged murderer's bond.
Nicholas Willen is the teen charged with the second-degree murder of Elijah McKinney. His case goes to trial  on  March 4th. Willen is accused of stabbing McKinney in Carter County in December 2012. A criminal court judge released Willen on bond and put him under house arrest. As a part of the conditions of his house arrest Nicholas Willen cannot have any contact with anybody involved in the case, cannot partake in alcohol or drugs, and has to receive counseling at home. Willen is allowed to leave his home, as long as a guardian is with him.

Cheryl Wright, the mother of two daughters who attended school with Elijah McKinney said this was not fair. She started a petition in an effort to put Willen back behind bars.  

"I never met EJ.., but I knew of him, and I guess I felt what his mother might feel in this instance. And what would I do if this as my children that this had happened to," said Wright. She said Nicholas Willen spent Christmas at home with his family, something Elijah McKinney can never do again.

"I was not able to put up a tree. Because last Christmas Elijah helped me put up my tree….and I felt guilty because my younger kids key asking me ‘mom when are you going to put up the tree?’ but I just couldn’t," said Elijah's mother Julie Ott. Ott said all she had this Christmas were memories of her son. With just two months until Willen stand trial, the petition is Ott’s  way of trying to get justice for her son .

"At least with the petition I feel that we're doing something.Were trying something. And it's just, it's not in vain."           

Dozens of people have given their support.

”So far I think that we have had like over 300 signatures," said Julie Ott. There's no guarantee the petition will make any difference, but that's not stopping  the people who loved E.J..

Assistant Public Defender Melanie Sellers, who’s representing Willen, told News Channel 11, Willen is presumed innocent at this point and the purpose of bond is to ensure his appearance in court.

“Pretrial incarceration is not meant to be punitive. Anyone is entitled to bond except for a capital (death penalty) case," said Sellers.

Assistant District Attorney Janet Hardin told News Channel 11 that before she got involved with the case, the juvenile court judge and other assistant district attorney’s found this form of release to be appropriate.

“My heartfelt sympathy is with the families of both victims and so balancing that, if there is a breach of his release, this office will not hesitate to go back before the judge and ask that his release into the community be revoked. I won't hesitate. The system is the hardest on victims, victim's families and witnesses and there is no way that we can fulfill the void that has been taken by the loss of a loved one and all I really try to do is treat these people with the utmost respect and dignity and leave no stone unturned in the prosecution of their loved one's case," said Hardin.

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