Trio arrested in death of Tazewell man have case bound to grand jury

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UPDATE (March 16, 4 p.m.) — The three accused in the death of Aaron Massengill had their case bound over to the grand jury on Tuesday.

Patrick Andrew Smith, 26; Courtney L. Gilpin, 23; and Jimmy Lee Riffe, 36 face one count each of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

The trio appeared in Claiborne County court for a preliminary hearing. The state called four witnesses, who testified for several hours.

“How many shots did you hear?” an attorney asked the first witness, Charles Daughtery.

“One,” he replied.

“Were you scared?” Daughtery was asked, to which he replied, “I was scared to death.”

Daughtery’s wife was the second witness to take the stand. Both testified they were nearby when the victim was allegedly shot.

“I go to reach for the door handle and I hear what sounds like a gunshot. And then what sounds as if something heavy has fallen and I hear, ‘You shot me,”‘ Jolene Burchfield said.

Another witness recalled a conversation she heard between the defendants, which according to her testimony, detailed a planned robbery.

“Courtney was talking about how she had a friend coming over. He thinks that he’s taking her to Taco Bell, but she said that she was going to get in the vehicle and pretend everything was OK, and Patrick was going to come out of the bushes, and they were going to rob him and take his stuff,” Becky Adams said.


TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WATE) – Three people have been arrested and charged in the death of Aaron Jeremiah Massengill after his body was discovered Feb. 22 along Ferguson Ridge Road.

An autopsy revealed that Massengill died as a result of a gunshot wound.

A joint investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office and the Tazewell Police Department led to Patrick Andrew Smith, 26; Courtney L. Gilpin, 23; and Jimmy Lee Riffe, 36.

All three were taken into custody at a residence in Sullivan County. Massengill’s vehicle was also recovered from the residence.

The three face one count each of first degree murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. A bond of $1 million has been issued for each suspect.

The investigation remains active and ongoing. This is a developing story and we’ll continue to update the details as they become available.

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