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Courtroom drama set for this week in Constant murder case

The key witness in the John Constant Jr. murder case is still scheduled to be deposed in open court this coming week.

However, the deposition might be held on Thursday (May 2) or Friday (May 3), District Attorney General Steve Crump told The Advocate & Democrat. The deposition was originally set for Friday but prosectors are working on being ready to get court testimony from the witness on Thursday instead.

“We are in the process of preparing for that (Thursday),” Crump said. “I can’t guarantee it will happen on that day. There are a lot of moving parts.”

Almost out of the clear, blue sky, Max Benson Calhoun, 67, of Englewood, was indicted in February for the murder of Constant, who was found shot to death in 1973. The mysterious case was often talked about in the 1970s and 1980s. However, in recent years the unsolved Constant murder had taken a backseat to the mystery surrounding Jim Miller’s murder in 2010. The trail on the Constant murder case appeared to be cold as ice.

Then, in February, the bombshell indictment was handed down.

The murder case against Calhoun has been moving fast since the indictment was unveiled. The case has hinged on one anonymous witness, who Crump says is suffering a terminal illness. The witness, whom Crump has yet to publicly name, came forward at the end of 2018 with enough information for prosecutors to at least get an indictment against Calhoun.

“We want to take a deposition of this witness,” Crump said during a March Monroe County Criminal Court hearing. “They are suffering a serious health problem and we’d like to do this in case they don’t make it to trial.”

Crump said he wanted the deposition in open court and Calhoun’s lawyer, James Logan, said he had no opposition to the open court testimony.

Calhoun, who had to be re-indicted after the original indictment was found to have errors, has entered a plea of not guilty. Logan said Calhoun had made bail after the bond against him was lowered from $1 million to $100,000.

Logan told Judge Andrew Freiberg he wanted a chance to find out who the witness is and investigate if the witness’ testimony would hold up in court.

After the hearing, Logan said he had no idea who the witness was, if it was a man or woman, or what kind of health problem they had.

“We’re going to check all the boxes on this witness,” he said. “We want to find out what they’re suffering from and what they’re going to claim. More than 46 years is a long time to remember something and only now step forward.”

Constant, a McMinn County truck driver, was found dead in a pickup truck under a bridge in Vonore. Articles published at the time of the March 1973 homicide said Constant had been shot multiple times with two different weapons.


Sweetwater High School football legend Kippy Brown visited Sweetwater High on Thursday to donate his old SHS letter jacket to the school. Brown starred on state title teams at SHS in the early 1970s. He then went on to play for then Memphis State before embarking on a very successful coaching career in the college and NFL ranks. Brown eventually won a Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Pictured from left to right: Mike Martin, SHS athletic director and assistant principal; Brown; Kim Vineyard, assistant principal; and Eric Weaver, principal of SHS.

submitted photo 

Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram, right, recently presented a $25,000 check to Vonore Mayor Bob Lovingood, left, which will be utilized for ADA accessible parking and restrooms at the Vonore Veteran’s Memorial Park.

County Commission looks at ways to replace Allen

With the resignation of long-time Monroe County Commissioner Marty Allen still fresh, the County Commission began the process of replacing him during April’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.

County Attorney Jerome Melson told the commission that anyone, even members of the public, could submit a name to replace Allen, but only commission members could actually nominate someone.

“Now, a member of the public must be a registered voter,” Melson said, “and they can either submit a name to the chairman of the commission (County Mayor Mitch Ingram) or bring the name in on the day the commission meets to nominate people.”

The commission has 120 days to fill the seat, but they will attempt to fill it during the next regular meeting on May 28.

“Whoever is nominated will be a commissioner until the next scheduled election, which is in August of 2020,” Melson said. “Then, that person will have to run if they wish to keep the seat.”

Whomever is elected in 2020 will then serve out the remainder of Allen’s four-year term and have to run again in 2022 if they want to keep the seat.

Since there are only nine commissioners on the board at this time, Melson stressed that five “yes” votes would seat a new commissioner.

According to Melson, if anyone is unhappy with who is appointed to the seat, they will have 10 days to file a challenge in Monroe County Chancery Court.

Man charged with sexual battery

A man described as the owner of the Motel 6 near Interstate 75 was arrested on a sexual battery charge by Sweetwater Police on Thursday.

Detective Kevin Watson said a woman came to the Police Department Thursday afternoon and said she had been employed at the Motel 6 for four days. According to Watson, the woman said that since she had been employed, the owner, whom she knew as “Lucky,” had been making sexual advances toward her.

The woman said “Lucky” had grabbed her groin area and buttocks several times without her consent.

Watson said a subsequent investigation showed that “Lucky” was actually Hem Raj Singh.

Watson said Singh, 43, Murray’s Chapel Road, was picked up and charged with sexual battery. Singh spent about three hours in jail before being released on a $50,000 bond.

Academic Achievers to be honored on Tuesday

Monroe County’s top industrial leaders, mayors, school system officials and high school seniors will come together this week for the fifth annual Academic Achievers Banquet.

Monroe County Economic Development, in coordination with Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram and the Monroe County School System, will host the event on Tuesday, April 30, at 6 p.m. at the Monroe County Rescue Squad’s brand new facility on New Highway 68 just outside of Madisonville.

“It is vital that we honor these Academic Achievers from each of the three schools for their hard work and dedication this far,” said Monroe County’s Economic Development Director Richard Kirkland. “This is a small act that we can show these students and their families to let them know how proud we are of them and that we will be here to help them in anyway in their future. We also want this to be a time for the students and local industrial leaders to be able to connect.”

The event, which is by invitation only, will recognize students from each of the county’s three high schools. Academic Achievers are chosen by the schools on the basis of grades, but also on their leadership in school activities and within their communities. Each student will be presented with a plaque/certificate from Director of Schools Tim Blankenship at the banquet.

“The Academic Achievers Banquet is a wonderful event to honor our high-achieving seniors,” said Blankenship. “We are very proud of these students and all of their accomplishments. It is our hope that these students will continue their success throughout their collegiate careers and return to Monroe County to help our county grow. We are grateful for this opportunity to encourage and applaud these students and their families.”

The following seniors from the Class of 2019 will be recognized:

Sequoyah High School

  • — Heather Cornell, Lucy Cournoyer, Jocelyn Denham, Justin Ellis, Jerri Ellison, Madison Houston, Logan Lanham, Jeffrey Moser, Dusty Prater and Kelly Swabe.

Sweetwater High School

  • — Tatum Amos, William Brackett, Benjamin Camp, Savannah Cooper, Dillan Fain, Taylor Fairweather, Albert Gladson, Alysa Nix, William Ogles and Ann Marie Smith.

Tellico Plains High School

  • — Caleb Cain, Jewelia Clark, Emily Cook, Kailey Martin, Patience Martin, Hunter Patton, Samantha Russell, Brooke Talley, MaKenna Thurman and Sydney Wilson.

In addition to the students and their parents, business leaders throughout the county, County Mayor Mitch Ingram, mayors from all of the county’s municipalities, and School Board members have been invited to attend the banquet.

While the guest speaker at this year’s event is being kept a secret, organizers promise the speaker will be a nice surprise for students and their families.

“If our Academic Achievers are Tennessee fans, they will be excited to have the opportunity to hear this speaker,” said Kirkland.

Organizers hope the event changes the mentality of both area students and business leaders.

“Our goal is to continue to bring awareness to our industries of how outstanding our Monroe County students are,” said Kirkland. “We also want to develop a culture within Monroe County recognizing that our industries offer not only a job, but a career.”