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Juarez gets 27 for Halls Mill murder

By TERENCE CORRIGAN - Special to the T-G
Posted 1/29/22

Juan Antonio Lopez Juarez will spend the next 27 years behind bars for the murder of Juan Gutierrez at a trailer home on Lower Halls Mill Road on Oct. 11, 2020.  

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Juarez gets 27 for Halls Mill murder


Juan Antonio Lopez Juarez will spend the next 27 years behind bars for the murder of Juan Gutierrez at a trailer home on Lower Halls Mill Road on Oct. 11, 2020.  

Juarez took a plea deal in the case on Jan. 20. He was originally charged with 1st-degree murder but in the plea deal with prosecutors, he accepted a 2nd-degree murder conviction.  

Juarez took what is called a best interest plea. He did not admit to the crime but acknowledged that if it had gone to trial it was likely, given the evidence, that he could have been found guilty and the prison sentence would have been longer. He will not be eligible for early release.  

If Juarez had rejected the plea deal, taken the case to trial and been found guilty of 1st-degree murder, he would have faced a minimum sentence of 51 years without parole.  

According to Assistant DA Mike Randles, the victim in the case, Juan Gutierrez, and his cousin, Jose Menendez, drove from Franklin to Bedford County to collect money they were owed from Rolando Garcia.  

The defendant, Juarez, was also at the scene when the cousins arrived. Gutierrez got into a fight with Garcia and Menendez got out of the car to assist his cousin. Juarez ran into the trailer and came out with two rifles.  

He gave one of the rifles to Garcia. At that point, the two men from Franklin were outgunned, facing the other two who had firearms.  

The defendant in the case, Juarez, shot Gutierrez several times. Gutierrez died at the scene.  

Rolando Garcia chased the other Franklin man, Jose Menendez, back to his vehicle. Menendez pleaded for his life and Garcia ordered him to toss his cellphone on the ground. Menendez complied with Garcia’s order and was allowed to leave the scene.  

Revenge arson  

Danielle Nicole Harris, 37, was sentenced, Jan. 20, to six years in prison for arson. She will be eligible for early release on parole after serving 30 percent of the sentence. She could be released on parole after 22 months in prison. She has already been incarcerated in jail awaiting trial for almost 10 months. The 10 months will be credited toward her sentence.  

Harris admitted to setting fire to her brother-in-law's home in Rockvale on Sept. 22, 2020. According to Assistant DA Mike Randles, Harris was angry with her brother-in-law because he refused to allow her to stay at his home.  

Harris allegedly used a petroleum product, likely gasoline, to start the fire. The fire did not cause extensive damage.  

Meth dealer  

Mary Elizabeth Plemons, 42, pled guilty, Jan. 20, to a charge of possession of methamphetamine for resale and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. She will be eligible for early release on parole after serving 35 percent of the sentence — four years and two months. An additional charge of delivery of meth was dismissed. She has already served nearly 10 months of the sentence in jail awaiting trial.  

Plemons was arrested on Jan. 28, 2020, at the home she and her husband shared on Harrison Road, west of Shelbyville.  

According to Assistant DA Mike Randles, law enforcement officers with the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force confronted Mary Elizabeth Plemons and her husband Jack Kenneth Plemons, 49, at their home. The officers did not have to obtain a search warrant as Jack Plemons was on parole.  

During the search, in a safe in a bedroom, officers found bags of meth, marijuana, pills and drug paraphernalia, including syringes and scales.  

Mary Elizabeth admitted that 14.49 grams of meth was hers, Randles said.  

“I knew what he (Jack Plemons) was doing,” Mary Elizabeth said. “I’m guilty. I knew what was going on.” 

Jack Kenneth Plemons was arraigned Sept. 20, 2021, on 15 counts of “manufacture, delivery, sale or possession of Methamphetamines,” each count carrying a sentence of 8 to 30 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for each count.  

Plemons was also indicted on drug paraphernalia charges, firearms violations (felon in possession of firearm) and a conspiracy charge for allegedly working with another man to sell drugs and smuggle methamphetamine into the Bedford County Jail.  

He was served with paperwork for two additional charges while standing for arraignment before Judge Alexander Durard, Jr. on Sept. 20.  

Plemons is accused of conspiring with Cleon Van Stone, age unknown, to bring meth into the jail on Feb. 25, 2021.  

According to the indictment, Van Stone and Plemons were housed in the same pod in jail and Plemons made arrangements with persons outside the jail to assist Van Stone with selling methamphetamine after he was released.  

Plemons was previously convicted of charges involving methamphetamine possession in Blount County in 2010, Monroe County on Aug. 24, 2009 and Anderson County on May 8, 2009.