At Hearing In
BY KEN LITTLE
Emotions ran high Monday during a bond-reduction hearing in Greene County Criminal Court for Phil Allen Guinn, who allegedly stabbed Afton resident Scotty Wayne Tilson to death last June 30.
Guinn's son and step-daughter both reiterated testimony they gave at a preliminary hearing last year that they were afraid of their father.
Judge John F. Dugger Jr. denied a request by defense lawyer Douglas L. Payne to lower Guinn's bond from $600,000 to $100,000, a reduction which might have allowed Guinn to await developments in his case out of jail on electronic monitoring.
Dugger's decision prompted a spontaneous outburst of applause from about 15 family members and friends of Tilson sitting in the courtroom behind prosecutor Cecil Mills Jr. and the lead investigator, sheriff's Detective Sgt. Jason Taylor.
Judge Dugger quickly admonished the Tilson supporters, and warned them not to repeat similar displays at upcoming court appearances by Guinn, who listened intently to the testimony of his children but ignored the display by the Tilson family.
STABBED IN BACK
Tilson, 36, died after being stabbed in the back, but not before he identified Guinn as his alleged assailant to a sheriff's deputy.
At a preliminary hearing last September in Greene County General Sessions Court, Judge Kenneth Bailey Jr. found enough probable cause to bind the case over to a grand jury on a second-degree murder charge.
Guinn's case has not yet been presented to a grand jury.
The state argued for the more serious charge of first-degree murder at the preliminary hearing, contending that Guinn, 47, acted with premeditation and sought to rob Tilson at his single-wide mobile home at 95 Mary Lamons Road in Afton.
Tilson and Guinn's step-daughter, 30-year-old Chassidy Cox, had been in a relationship for about 18 months prior to Tilson's death.
Cox testified at the preliminary hearing that Guinn overheard Cox tell her grandfather last June 29 that she had been sexually "violated" by Tilson several times while asleep in his bed.
Dugger said Monday that Guinn's past history of violence mitigated against lowering his bond.
During an interview by investigators with Guinn that was taped on July 1 and played at the September preliminary hearing, he said at one point, "I've been in trouble all my life."
Guinn was convicted of second-degree murder in May 1997 and sentenced to 16-1/2 years in prison for the stabbing death of 15-year-old Shannon Story.
The Greeneville High School freshman went missing in September 1996. His decomposed body was found in November 1996 off Baileyton Road.
Guinn was released from prison in December 2012, according to Tennessee Department of Correction records.
SON 'TERRIFIED' OF FATHER
Guinn's son, Allen Guinn, testified that he loves his father but remains afraid of him. Phil Guinn came to live with his son after being released from prison in December 2012.
In response to questions by Mills, Allen Guinn said his father had been "violent" toward him in the past, and said he was uneasy with the living arrangements after his father got out of prison.
"You (earlier) said you couldn't get rid of him?" Mills asked.
"Yes, sir," Allen Guinn responded.
"You are terrified of him. That's the truth for purposes of this hearing?" Mills asked.
"Yes, sir," Allen Guinn said.
Cox also took the stand Monday, wearing the same-style orange Greene County Detention Center overalls as her step-father. Cox has been in custody for several months on a violation-of-probation charge.
Cox said Guinn became upset when he overheard her allegations about Tilson on June 29 during a family outing at a Little League all-star game in Morristown in which her son was playing.
Cox was reminded Monday by Mills that she had testified at the preliminary hearing that Guinn had a "killer's mentality."
Cox testified Monday she saw "rage in his eyes" when Guinn overheard her allegations about Tilson.
"When he is hurt or upset, I am afraid of him, but on a daily basis, I'm not afraid of him," Cox said.
Payne asked Cox why she talked about Tilson to her grandfather with Guinn nearby.
"I didn't think nothing would come about it, come from it," Cox said. "I didn't ask him to come do it."
Payne earlier suggested to Dugger that the $600,000 bond was excessive.
"I believe $100,000 bond is more appropriate. I think he can be put on electronic monitoring," Payne said. "We have other defendants in homicide cases on electronic monitoring.
"Should be go back and live with his son? No. If he's afraid of him, he's afraid of him," Payne said.
Dugger said after denying the motion for lowered bond that, in his judicial experience, he recalled only one other case where someone released from prison on a murder conviction was allegedly involved in a second homicide.
"The defense called both his children (to testify Monday), and they both said they are afraid of him," Dugger said. "I think Judge Bailey's bond is correct."
Mills said a grand jury may get Guinn's case in March. Guinn may not go to trial until 2015.
He remains held on $600,000 bond.