KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — When Sean Finnegan and Rebecca Dishman stand trial on March 4 for the murder of Jennifer Paxton, they could face the death penalty if found guilty. Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark informed the court on Monday that he intends to seek the death penalty in the case. Finnegan and Dishman have pleaded not guilty.

Jennifer Paxton (Courtesy Samantha Kennemore)

Finnegan and Dishman are charged with first degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence in the death of Paxton in 2019. Investigators said Paxton was tortured, raped and deprived of food and medical care at a home on East Fairview Road in Oak Ridge.

They remain in custody awaiting trial at the Anderson County Detention Facility. Assistant Attorney General Brian GIlliam said in August 2020 that the death penalty was a possibility.

Clark gave in the notice several legal factors alleged in the case that may qualify defendants for the death penalty, including the “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” nature of the murder, and that the murder was, “committed for the purpose of avoiding or interfering with or preventing arrest or prosecution for Aggravated Kidnapping.” Clark also alleged that the defendants, “knowingly mutilated the body of the victim after death.”