After a defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge in a 46-year-old homicide case on a technicality, the state asked for more time and this past week got a re-indictment against Max Benson Calhoun, the Englewood man first charged in the case last month.
Calhoun’s attorney, James Logan, had filed the motion to dismiss the charge, saying his client had been charged under a law that did not exist at the time of the March 1973 killing of John R. Constant. The state then sought a new indictment that left nothing to question and again a grand jury agreed to indict.
The new indictment states Calhoun, now 67 years old, killed Constant 46 years ago “by means of poison, lying in wait or by any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious and premeditated killing.”
Calhoun was brought into Monroe County Criminal Court to appear before Judge Sandra Donaghy in February. However, Donaghy said she was not the judge officially assigned to the case and neither of Logan’s motions were heard. In addition to asking for the case to be dismissed, Logan was also seeking a reduction on Calhoun’s $1 million bond.
Donaghy said while she could take Calhoun’s plea of not guilty, she could not rule on his request to either dismiss the case or lower his bond.
At that time, 10th Judicial District Attorney General Steve Crump said he did not expect any big delays in the case, but there were two witnesses in poor health and he hoped, if nothing else, to depose them both just in case they could not appear during the trial.
When told Andrew Freiberg, the judge assigned to the trial, would not be back in Monroe County until March 18, Crump said the state should be ready to reply to the motions made by Logan.
The 1973 murder of Constant has long been one of Monroe County’s prominent unsolved murder cases. Crump said in a Feb. 12 press conference that a witness to what the state contends happened to Constant came forward in December, saying they had a terminal disease and wanted the truth to be known.
Constant’s bullet-riddled body was found in his pickup truck under a bridge in Vonore on Mach 16, 1973. Published reports at the time of the murder said Constant had been shot with two different kinds of weapons. One theory investigators first looked at contended Constant was actually shot in a car wash stall in Etowah but it was made to look like he was ambushed in Vonore. When asked about that theory, Crump declined to comment in his press conference on Feb. 12.
A man who lived close to where Constant’s body was found said he was watching TV between 8-9 p.m. that evening 46 years ago when he heard several quick shots. The man also said a car with a loud muffler passed his house both before and after the shots.
Investigators also looked at reports that said Constant was last seen in a garage owned by H. B. Calhoun in Etowah. H.B. Calhoun’s son, Max, now stands charged with killing Constant.
In a 1987 Democrat newspaper article, Constant’s ex-wife said Constant was scared he would be killed because he knew too much about crooked dealings involving certain public officials.
Harold Buckner, a former McMinn County deputy, was charged with Constant’s murder in the early 1980s but he was eventually cleared.
Two years ago, Crump formed a Cold Case Task Force to re-examine unsolved cases across the 10th Judicial District, which is made up of Polk, Bradley, McMinn and Monroe County. However, Crump even admitted he was somewhat surprised that the Constant murder case has jumped to the forefront ahead of some other cold cases after all these years.