BY KEN LITTLE
Larry Shane Morgan, the man charged with the July 2 armed robbery of a Greeneville bank and an earlier armed robbery of a convenience market in Chuckey, appeared in U.S. District Court Wednesday morning.
Kaylen L. Butcher, the young woman accused of participating in the June 28 Chuckey Stop-And-Go market robbery with Morgan, was also in court.
Not present was a third defendant in the case who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of accessory after the fact, and making a material false representation to a federal official.
He is Brandon Dale Shelton, 18, of Limestone.
An Aug. 14 indictment unsealed on Wednesday states that Shelton, knowing that the July 2 robbery of the Greeneville Federal Bank at 2305 E. Andrew Johnson Hwy. took place, "did receive, relieve, comfort and assist [Morgan] in order to hinder and prevent [his] apprehension, trial and punishment."
The indictment further states that Shelton "knowingly and willfully" made false statements to FBI agents during an interview that Butcher disposed of the gun used in the bank robbery.
Shelton, who is free on $20,000 bond, was not in court Wednesday. Through a teleconferencing call, his court-appointed lawyer, David L. Leonard, entered a not guilty plea to the charges on Shelton's behalf.
Through Butcher's court-appointed lawyer, Jordan C. Pennington, a not guilty plea was entered on her behalf to an additional charge of accessory after the fact. The charge was filed about the same time Shelton was indicted.
TRIAL DATE SET
Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman set an Oct. 16 trial date for all three defendants.
The case will be heard by Senior U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer recently recused himself from the case.
Judge Inman set a plea bargain cutoff date of Oct. 2.
Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Gregory Bowman will prosecute.
Shelton and Butcher are acquainted with each other, court officials said.
Butcher, 19, is also charged with obstruction of commerce by robbery, and using a firearm "in relation to a crime of violence," in connection with the Chuckey market robbery.
Shackled and wearing a navy blue jail-style shirt and pants, Butcher sat about 15 feet in front of Morgan on Wednesday. They made no eye contact in the courtroom.
Morgan, 36, is charged with six counts by federal authorities in connection with the bank and market robberies, including obstruction of commerce by robbery, bank robbery, two counts of use of a firearm in relation to a violent crime, and two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
He is represented by Nikki Pierce, of the Federal Defender's Office.
Both Morgan and Butcher remain in federal custody.
If convicted on all charges, Inman told Morgan at a recent arraignment hearing that he would face a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison, and possibly life.
A gunshot was fired in each robbery, and a clerk was struck in the head with a pistol barrel in the market robbery. There were no serious injuries.
Morgan and Butcher both entered not guilty pleas Wednesday to charges in a superseding indictment that also names Shelton on two of the counts.
Both are also charged by the state with aggravated robbery and other offenses, but Third Judicial District Attorney General Berkeley Bell recently said that the state did not wish to pursue separate charges.
Depending on the outcome of the federal case, the state has the option of prosecuting Morgan and Butcher in the future, Bowman said.
"That's up to the state. They can retain those charges if they want," he said.