John Wayne Blair murder trial set to begin in Sevier County

John Wayne Blair murder trial set to begin in Sevier County

March 7, 2007

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) -- Nearly two years after the crime and several court delays, a convicted sex offender charged with killing a Sevier County woman will go on trial.

John Wayne Blair is accused of murdering Kelly Sellers, 22, then burying her body on English Mountain in 2005.

Blair has become accustomed to a court room. Over the past year and a half, he's been through dozens of hearings. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Sellers' murder.

Just this week, Blair's attorney asked that pictures of Sellers' body not be shown to the jury. Special Prosecutor Al Schmutzer explains, "These pictures did come out of the autopsy and they feel like to some extent, they are gruesome. We feel that we need to show them to prove our case."

Judge Rex Ogle ruled some of the pictures will be shown and he'll reserve judgement on the others until trial.

The defense has argued that Blair is mentally retarded and should not be eligible for the death penalty. Court papers reveal Blair claims someone else killed Sellers.

Prosecutors are remaining tight lipped about how they're getting ready for Monday's trial. "I do not want to taint the jury," Schmutzer says. "There have been very few facts made public in this case and we need to keep it that way."

The trial begins Monday with jury selection. Blair's attorney has asked for it to be moved to another county. He argues that all the media coverage will keep his client from getting a fair trial in Sevier County.

The judge won't rule on this request until after jury selection begins.

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