Harris, Keene Charged With First-Degree Murder Of Donald Ray Gunter, Found Dead In His Home
BY KEN LITTLE
A man and woman charged Thursday with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Donald Ray Gunter had their first appearances this morning in Greene County General Sessions Court.
Mario Donte "Rio" Keene, 39, of 714 North Main St., and Amanda Kate Harris, 27, of 1006 Light St., both appeared before Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr., who set return hearing court dates of March 12 for Keene and Harris.
Keene's bond was revoked by Criminal Court Judge John F. Dugger Jr. at the request of Assistant District Attorney General Cecil Mills Jr.
Harris' bond was continued by Bailey at $600,000.
Gunter, 69, was found dead just before noon on Tuesday in his home at 554 Old Mountain Road.
Harris and Keene were taken into custody Wednesday for questioning and formally charged Thursday with first-degree murder.
Robbery is the apparent motive in the death of Gunter, sheriff's Detective Sgt. Mike Fincher said in arrest warrants for Keene and Harris.
ROBBERY MOTIVE ALLEGED
Keene allegedly committed the offense of first-degree murder "in the perpetration of a robbery," the warrant said.
On Monday night, according to the warrant, Keene and Harris went to Gunter's house "for the purpose of getting money from the victim."
Keene allegedly struck Gunter in the head several times. He and Harris then allegedly hogtied Gunter "and they did leave the victim there in his home," the warrant said.
Gunter's wallet, cell phone and other possessions were taken, the warrant said.
He died as "a result of the perpetration of the robbery by the defendants," the warrant said.
The warrant for the arrest of Harris said Keene, her co-defendant, "did strike the head of the victim, Donald Ray Gunter, and they did leave the victim there at the home."
Greeneville lawyer Douglas Payne was appointed by Bailey to represent Keene. The Public Defender's Office will represent Harris.
More than 10 members of Gunter's family and other friends were in the courtroom, including Joy Rader Nunnally, Greene County Register of Deeds, a sister of Donald Gunter.
MEETING LEADS TO CHARGES
Sheriff Steve Burns and investigators met Thursday with Mills.
"Shortly after that meeting, arrest warrants were issued charging Mario Donte Keene and Amanda Kate Harris with first-degree murder," Burns said in a news release.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigations Division on the case. Authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy on Gunter.
A gold-colored 1998 Cadillac Catera sought in connection with the investigation was also located when Keene was taken into custody on Wednesday.
Keene was charged last July by members of the Third Judicial Drug Task Force with sale/delivery of a Schedule II drug. Those charges are still pending.