By Nathan Baker
The first of three men accused in the deaths of two Roan Mountain residents in June 2012 could go to trial shortly after the first of next year.
Jeffrey Lynn Whitehead, Jonathan Scott Shell and Tyler Daniel Shell appeared together in Carter County Criminal Court Monday before Judge Robert Cupp for a scheduled court date.
The three men — Whitehead and Tyler Shell in street clothes, having made bond since their Feb. 24 arrests, and Jonathan Shell in the standard red-and-white striped uniform issued by the jail — stood quietly around the single podium in front of the judge’s bench as their attorneys conferred with the court.
Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks said the three cases would likely be severed, so they can be tried separately, and Whitehead’s case will go to trial first.
Without objection from the attorneys, Cupp set the first trial, likely to take about three days, for the first full week of available court dates in January.
The three were arrested in February by county deputies in connection with the deaths of Joyce Brock and Russell Glenn Shell, who were found shot and burned in a still-smoking garage in Roan Mountain.
Jonathan Shell was Russell Shell’s son, and Whitehead married Russell Shell’s ex-wife, according to investigators.
At the time of the arrests, Sheriff Chris Mathes said the killings could have been drug related, pointing to a number of different types of illicit narcotics found at the home of the dead couple.
In other court news:
- Former sheriff and current Constable John Henson made his initial appearance in criminal court on a charge of sexual battery.
His February indictment on that charge by a grand jury stems from an incident last fall at a Hampton convenience store where a woman said the officer forcefully touched her.
Henson was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of simple assault in 2009 after a woman said he hugged her inappropriately at a Johnson City laundromat.
Judge Cupp requested a criminal history report for Henson because of the previous charge and set his next court date for July 17.