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Defendant found ‘guilty’ in Wainwright murder

By TERENCE CORRIGAN - Special to the T-G
Posted 2/15/22

Aretenchius Wainwright III was 33 years old when he was murdered on March 18, 2020 at his home at 208 Chestnut Drive in Shelbyville.  

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Defendant found ‘guilty’ in Wainwright murder


Aretenchius Wainwright III was 33 years old when he was murdered on March 18, 2020 at his home at 208 Chestnut Drive in Shelbyville.  

Artenchius, known as “Art,” died in the front doorway of his home. Wainwright was halfway out the door onto the front deck. He had suffered a beating with an aluminum baseball bat. He had also sustained at least two severe blows to his head from what is believed to be the butt end of a handgun. Wainwright had been hit in the head at least a dozen times with the bat.  

When Wainwright’s attackers fled the home, they left him in the shower stall of his bathroom but, with help from his live-in girlfriend, he was able to make it to the front door where he died.  

His last words to her were: “‘Cristy, can you get me a drink of water,’” according to prosecutor Mike Randles, and he asked her to call his family.  

Dr. Randy Tashjian, who performed the autopsy on Art Wainwright, testified that he had never performed an autopsy that resulted in such a long list of injuries. In his career, Tashjian said he has performed over 2,000 autopsies (over 100 were homicides). The list of lacerations and bruises Wainwright suffered fills nearly three pages of tightly spaced lines of small type. Wainwright took blows from the bat over his entire body. His liver, spleen, and right kidney were cut; four of his ribs were fractured.  

Solving the crime Initially, Shelbyville police had little to go on to identify who was responsible for the brutal murder. They had physical evidence — mostly blood — at Wainwright’s home and Wainwright’s silver Infiniti that was burned near Murfreesboro the night of his murder.  

They also had an account of what happened from Wainwright’s girlfriend, Cristalia Dawn Ford, who reported she was locked in a closet during the attack. Shelbyville Police Department Crime Scene Investigator Sgt. Bill Logue, Jr., conducted his normal, room-to-room survey of the crime scene, Wainwright’s home.  

He took dozens of photographs of bloody footprints and areas where the violence took place. He noted in his testimony a “huge amount of blood” on the floor of the den, where, the struggle began and most of the violence occurred. Logue presented in court the physical evidence collected at Wainwright’s home the night of the murder.  

Investigators found approximately 30 ounces of marijuana concealed in four locations around the home. They found bloody strips of duct tape the killers used to bind Wainwright’s ankles and wrists. They found an empty gun box that originally contained a Canik 9 mm pistol. They found a fully loaded magazine for the handgun. The handgun and the bat used in the crime were never recovered.  

A break in the case  

The break in the case didn’t come until May 28, 2020, 70 days after the murder. On May 28, investigators received a phone call from Donna Watford who lived on South Mill Street in Dowelltown. Donna Watford told investigators that her husband, Colby Ray Watford, had participated in the killing and robbery of Wainwright. Colby was arrested that day. He had just turned age 25, two weeks earlier.  

Colby Watford contacted Shelbyville police 6 days after his arrest and gave them a statement about what had happened the night Wainwright was murdered. He confessed to his participation in the crime and told them Charles Edward Young, 50, who reportedly lived in Christiana, enlisted him to help with the crime. An arrest warrant was issued for Young that day.  

Suspect caught in Murfreesboro  

Young was found by Rutherford County deputies near a residence where he had been staying on Kingwood Lane. In the course of a surveillance operation, Rutherford County deputies spotted Young, driving a yellow Ford Mustang, leaving a Kroger grocery store at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Franklin Road. To avoid the possibility that he would attempt an escape that could lead to a dangerous high-speed pursuit, deputies deployed spike strips in front of Young’s vehicle, flattening two tires.  

Girlfriend’s betrayal  

In his statement to Shelbyville investigators, Watford also implicated Cristalia Dawn Ford, 49, who was the live-in girlfriend of the victim, Wainwright. Watford told police that he was told by Young that Ford got Young involved in the plot to take $30,000 in cash and a large stash of marijuana from Wainwright. Ford allegedly told Young that Wainwright owed her$30,000 and was not paying it back. In court testimony, it was revealed that Ford was engaged in romantic relationships with Young and the victim, Wainwright, and was married to a third man.  

The charges and trials  

All three defendants, Charles Edward Young, Watford, and Ford are charged with especially aggravated robbery, 1st-degreemurder, and conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery. Young was the first of the three to go to trial. The trial was held the week of February 7-11.  

Young was found guilty of all the charges against him on Friday, Feb. 11. The jury deliberated less than two hours. His sentencing hearing is set for April 18. Cristalia Ford’s trial is set to begin on March 7.  

At this time, no trial date is set for Colby Ray Watford. 


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