KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The trial of Desmon Rhea charged in the shooting deaths of three women three years ago is underway in Knoxville. The son of one of those killed hopes to deliver a message directly to Rhea.

WATE’s Don Dare sat down with Tyler Trotter, who hopes to speak directly to Rhea. Trotter said when he gets a chance, he wants to deliver a message of forgiveness. More than a decade ago, the 37-year-old father of three children was a man in trouble himself struggling with drug addiction. He shared that he holds no animosity in his heart, but only forgiveness toward the man accused of fatally shooting his mother.

Rhea’s trial has been delayed since 2020, due to the pandemic and a backlog of criminal cases. He has been charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated child endangerment.

Three years ago, Rhea was taken into custody and later charged in connection with the deaths of three women. Two of them were found shot to death inside a west Knoxville home, Trotter’s mother, Barbara Rogers, and her best friend, Millie Blackwell. Also, on March 8, 2020, the body of Millie’s daughter, Juliana White was found at a second location.

With Rhea now on trial, Trotter intends to deliver a message.

“My intent is to let him know that forgiveness is available. My intent is to let him know that God has given me and released forgiveness into my life,” said Trotter.

Thirteen years ago, Trotter was a different man. Addicted to opioids, he robbed a Knoxville drug store and was given a six-year split sentence.

“I served one year of that at the detention center. Most of the time I was locked up 23 hours a day under maximum security restrictions. After that, I was released and spent the rest of my time on probation,” said Trotter.

He got out and then he had a relapse. It was at that point he went into recovery.

“I ended up in the 12-step program. I found myself getting clean for 7 days, then 30 days. To me it was a direct result of surrendering my life to this 12-step program and the principles that are behind it,” said Trotter.

With his demons behind him, and a new life in front of him, Trotter opened up a successful barbershop in South Knoxville several years ago. He was voted “favorite barber” in Knox News’ Best of Knoxville awards.

Over the years, he’s been open and joyful about his conversion. At every opportunity, he speaks about what forgiveness means. Then on February 28th of 2023, the state Board of Parole voted unanimously, 8 to 0, recommending that Trotter be granted a pardon.

Now, as a changed man, when he gets a chance at Rhea’s trial, Trotter is expected to say he holds no anger against him.

“I have been forgiven by God, and my life has never been the same. And, that forgiveness is available. There are a lot of people who obviously have very strong feelings and emotions. I understand those. I feel them and had to work through all of them. But my message is that forgiveness is available and we have the capacity to forgive as humans,” said Trotter.

In court, jury selection has been completed. In a case like this one, 14 members are on the panel, and two are alternates. However on Wednesday, one of the jurors was ill. So, if that jury is well enough tomorrow, opening arguments are expected to begin.