A plot to kill for money and drugs, and to get control of an illegal drug trafficking operation, was unveiled Thursday in Bedford County Circuit Court.
According to a prosecutor's report, the cold calculations of the crime included the timing of shots, knowing that the main target would have taken a sleeping pill after dates at a Tullahoma nightclub where the four victims' departure was monitored.
William Joel Haithcote provided one gun for the shootings at Matthew Kelley's mobile home, which was burned to conceal the crime. Bleeding victims died breathing smoke and soot.
False evidence was planted to throw investigators off the trail, but prosecutors praised the Bedford County Sheriff's Department and the Fire Marshal's Office for their work.
Much of the state's case came from federal penitentiary inmates, who would be able to testify what Haithcote told them about what he'd done. Haithcote is serving a federal prison term on drug charges.
Haithcote's testimony of "yes, sir" answers to Judge J.S. "Steve" Daniel showed that he agreed that Assistant District Attorney Ann Filer's report adequately described the crimes to which he pleaded guilty.
Filer's report shows that:
On June 5, 2002, Haithcote was at Buddy Habel's home on El Bethel Road with Kelley, James "Fuzz" Siebers, Jessie James Syler, Shawn Mooneyhan, Jeff Stewart, Valerie Nowlin Habel and Jackie Addison.
Kelley displayed a large amount of money, some of it from the sale of his vehicle.
About five kilos of cocaine were delivered to Habel's house for Kelley, who asked Habel if he would hold the drugs so he and Addison could go to The Spot, a Tullahoma nightclub. Habel agreed.
After the couple left, Haithcote said he wanted to take over Kelley's drug business and get Kelley's money. He proposed a plan on how to do that when Kelley returned to his Cortner Hollow Road home.
The need to kill Addison was clearly stated, as it was expected she'd return with Kelley.
Kelley's habit of taking medication to help him sleep after being at a night club was seen as a benefit to the plan, because he'd be drugged.
Valerie Habel overheard the murder plot and reprimanded Haithcote, reminding him that Kelley and Addison were his friends.
Haithcote replied with remarks to the effect that if Kelley wanted to play the game then he should be willing to die for the game.
Haithcote and Seibers later spoke at the side of a road overnight on June 5-6, 2002, and Haithcote gave Seibers a gun for the shootings. It was the murder weapon, and has never been recovered despite a thorough investigation.
Haithcote told prison inmates about the targets' departure being monitored at the nightclub. Kelley, Christy Jones, Addison and Tonja Taylor returned to Kelley's mobile home and went to bed with Kelley and Jones in one bed and Addison and Taylor in another.
While in their respective beds, they were shot in the head, each wound sufficient to kill, but only Taylor died immediately. The other three also suffered smoke and soot inhalation.
Flammable liquid was poured on and around the bodies and elsewhere in the trailer to be sure the victims died, eliminate evidence of foul play and make the crime scene look like an accident.
A neighbor found the bodies later June 6 and called law enforcement officers. Soon, Stewart saw Haithcote with a large amount of money and is quoted as saying that Haithcote explained, "We hit that lick."
Haithcote also told federal prisoners a gold tooth was planted at the crime scene in the hope that it would lead officers to believe the crime was committed by a black or Hispanic individual.
Haithcote admitted to investigators that he'd discussed the idea of killing Kelley, but said that the talk was not serious.
About two weeks after the murders, cocaine was split between four men, including Haithcote, charged in the crimes.
Haithcote's defense attorney has told Daniel that he'd spent more than three years preparing a defense on 10 charges, and then in November and December two counts of conspiracy were added. That changed the defense theory and led to hearings, with the conclusion that the only way to stop the state from adding charges was to go to trial.
Preparation for trial included interviews of the federal prisoners, who were ready to testify that Haithcote had described his role in the crimes while in custody on a drug conviction.