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Cellphone records show murderer’s alibi false

By TERENCE CORRIGAN - Special to the T-G
Posted 2/19/22

Charles Edward Young had from the beginning claimed he was with a girlfriend in Murfreesboro the night Aretenchius “Art” Wainwright was killed.  

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Cellphone records show murderer’s alibi false


Charles Edward Young had from the beginning claimed he was with a girlfriend in Murfreesboro the night Aretenchius “Art” Wainwright was killed.  

The murder occurred sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. on March 18. He said he was with Charlotte Mason all night, but cellphone records proved that unlikely. At the time of the murder, his cellphone was making and receiving calls on the north side of Shelbyville. 

 Throughout the day and evening of March 18, there were some 25 phone calls between Mason and Young including calls after 10 p.m.  

Assistant District Attorney General Randles pointed out that it was an illogical claim by Young that he was with Mason and calling her on the cellphone at the same time.  

The accomplice’s tale  

The most damning testimony against Young was that of his co-defendant Colby Ray Watford.  

Watford and Young worked together at WestRock, a cardboard box manufacturer in Murfreesboro. Watford occasionally purchased marijuana from Young.  

On the day of Wainwright’s murder, Watford was fired from his job for refusing to submit to a drug test. On his way home from work, he testified that he made several phone calls to friends hoping to line up another job.  

One of the people he called was Young, who he believed owned a construction company. According to Watford, Young didn’t have any construction work for him but he did offer him work collecting $30,000 from someone.  

Watford said Young told him they would split the proceeds three ways. Watford said, he did not go home from work, but he headed out to meet Young at a Walgreens parking lot. 

Young had Watford drive to Shelbyville in Watford’s white 2017 Chevy Colorado pickup. He told Watford they couldn’t use Young’s black Lincoln SUV because the victim would recognize it.  

On the drive to Shelbyville, Young told Watford that Cristalia Ford was in on the crime and was ensuring that Wainwright would be out of the house between 7 and 8 p.m. Ford reportedly called Young as the drove to Shelbyville.  

Watford said Young brought a black duffel bag which contained a gas can, ski masks, forearm coverings called sleeves (protective gear worn at the box factory) and gloves. Young was dressed in a dark-colored hoodie, Watford said. Young carried a pistol in the front pouch of his hoodie.  

Lying in wait  

When they got to Wainwright’s Chestnut Drive home, Young directed Watford to drive his pickup truck down the street and park it in the parking lot of an apartment complex.  

When they entered Wainwright’s home, Watford testified, Young stuffed a Playstation 4 video gaming device into his duffel bag. Watford said he started searching the home hoping to find the money and leave before Wainwright returned.  

His search for cash was unsuccessful but he did find a “big bag of marijuana” which Young put in the duffel bag. They also found an aluminum baseball bat by the front door.  

“He (Young) handed (the bat) to me…” Watford said, to use on Wainwright if he didn’t cooperate.  

According to Watford, they waited over a half hour for Wainwright and Cristalia Ford to return.  

Young and Watford waited in the kitchen as Wainwright and Ford came into the den. Watford said he entered the den first and Wainwright immediately tackled him. According to Watford, Ford screamed and ran off into another part of the house. With Wainwright on top of him, Watford said he could not use the bat to defend himself.  

It was then, according to Watford, that Young struck Wainwright “two or three” times in the head with the pistol. Watford said, then Young grabbed the bat and struck him “at least 10 times” in the head with it. Watford said with Wainwright on top of him he couldn’t see Young hitting him.  

“I couldn’t see it. I could hear it,” Watford said. “He was bleeding really bad, I could smell it.”  

According to Watford, Wainwright briefly lost consciousness and when he came to Young resumed his attack with the bat, demanding to know where the money was hidden.  

“He (Wainwright) said he didn’t know what we were talking about,” Watford testified. During the attack in the den, Watford said he searched Wainwright’s pockets and found a “wad” of cash (around $1,000) and the keys to his car.  

According to Watford, he helped Wainwright walk to the bathroom where the beating continued. They then bound Wainwright’s ankles and wrists with duct tape.  

“He was bleeding extremely bad,” Watford said. “He wasn’t fighting anymore. It seemed like he was going to die soon, so we left.”  

According to Watford, Young decided to steal Wainwright’s car, an Infiniti, “to get some money out of it.”  

Divvying up the loot  

According to Watford, he followed Young, who drove Wainwright’s car, for about a half-hour north of Shelbyville to a parking lot of an apartment complex where they divvied up what they had taken. Watford said he got around $400 and 5 ounces of marijuana.  

As they sat in Watford’s pickup in the apartment complex parking lot, Watford testified that Young decided they should burn the Infiniti they stole from Wainwright. They took it to a remote location where Young doused it with gasoline and set it ablaze.  

Heading home  

After dropping Young off at his car at the Walgreens parking lot where they had met up, Watford said he drove home arriving there at 12:30 a.m. He said, when he got home he found the bat in the back seat of his pickup.  

In the next few days, Watford testified, he cleaned the interior of his truck with bleach and disposed of the clothes he wore to the crime and the seat covers of his truck. He said he burned his cellphone in a fire pit and disposed of the bat at a recycling center near his home.  

“Did your wife know you got fired?” DA Randles said.  

“I told her everything as soon as I got home,” Watford replied.  

“Did you think someone was going to die?” Randles said.  

“Not in the beginning,” Watford replied.  

When Randles asked him if he was responsible for what happened, Watford replied “In a way.”  

“Do you take responsibility?” Randles said.  

“Yes,” Watford replied. “I was hoping the EMTs would get there in time.”  

Watford’s wife divorced him following his arrest.  

Closing arguments  

In his closing statement to the jury, Assistant DA Randles commented on the violent nature of Wainwright's death.  

“We all want a peaceful death,” Randles said. “Art didn’t get that. His death was not quick or peaceful. It was horrible, brutal and violent. He got himself to a point of peace. He asked for a drink of water and asked Cristy to call his family. There’s one more place we’ve got to go for Art and that place is justice.”