Russian Jury Convicts Man Of Murders In Great Smoky Mountains

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A jury in the Russian Federation Court for the Moscow Region found Yuri Solovyev, 44, guilty of the July 2002 murders of his roommates Vladimir Yemelyanov and Sufiya Arslanova in Gatlinburg, Tn., where all three worked on seasonal tourist visas. Solovyev is expected to be sentenced within the coming weeks.

Shortly after the murders, Sevier County and Gatlinburg authorities brought homicide charges against Solovyev for the grisly crime based upon a strong circumstantial case. The proof showed Solovyev acquired the murder weapon and purchased cleaning solutions to attempt to clean the apartment, while giving conflicting statements about the whereabouts of his missing roommates.

Solovyev fled before the bloody crime scene was discovered, but the blood of the victims was found in his abandoned automobile, and, thereafter, video-surveillance identified him using the victims’ credit cards.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation traced Solovyev to Moscow where he admitted to the Russian authorities in 2010 that he stole more than $19,000 in cash from the victims and buried their bodies in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but he claimed an unidentified man named “Alex”, unknown to the U.S. investigation, committed the murders.

Based upon Solovyev’s statements to the Russian authorities, Gatlinburg authorities found the remains of the victims almost a decade after the murders, along with the murder weapon and other evidence which officials said served to support the evidence that Solovyev acted alone. Solovyev is scheduled to be sentenced later in January.

Extradition of Russian nationals to the United States is not possible. However, Russian law allows for Russian nationals to be prosecuted under Russian law for crimes committed outside of the Russian Federation. This is the first time in which the Russians have prosecuted a Russian national on U.S. murder charges in response to a request for transfer of prosecution. In conjunction with bringing their own murder charges, Russian authorities spent a week in Gatlinburg, interviewing the witnesses and the local detective, after considering the investigative materials and lab reports transmitted under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

U.S. Attorney Bill Killian commended the verdict and stated, “I am very pleased the Department of Justice has been able to assist the authorities in Sevier County with bringing this man to justice. It sends an important message that fleeing to a foreign country – even if extradition is not possible – does not necessarily preclude a successful prosecution. This is a case of excellent law enforcement effort, diligence and persistence in bringing this defendant to justice for this gruesome crime. I especially applaud the work of Gatlinburg Detective Tim Williams, FBI Special Agent Buddy Early and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chuck Atchley. We hope that the sentence imposed in Russia will reflect the seriousness of the offense.”

“This case is an example of how criminal justice is not constrained by geographical boundaries. Local, state, federal, and international law enforcement partners all have a common interest in ensuring that there are no safe havens for fugitives from justice. The FBI commends the cooperative efforts of everyone involved," said Kenneth L. Moore, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Knoxville Division.

This case was prosecuted as a result of the efforts by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chuck Atchley, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, City of Gatlinburg Detective Tim Williams, and FBI Special Agent Buddy Early and Legal Attaché Bryan Earl.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BRAMLETT, VERNETTA LAURETT  804 LANE ST CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA LIGHT LAW VIOLATION --- BUTLER, TABITHA KAREN  165 VERO BEACH AVE ROSSVILLE, 30741  ... (click for more)

Dalton Police Warn Residents To Secure Vehicles After Rash Of Burglaries

There has been an increase in the number of entering auto cases in Dalton in the past few weeks, and in each case, it appears that the vehicles were left unlocked. Officials with the Dalton Police Department are reminding residents to keep their cars locked even if they’re only making a quick stop. Also, people are advised to never leave valuables in plain view in cars. Between ... (click for more)

Thankful For The Vital Role Teachers Played In My Life

Re: Roy Exum: Teachers Day Tomorrow Roy, I am especially appreciative of your poignant column written in tribute to teachers.  It made me tear up, as I have encountered both as a student and a career educator-- teachers like the second-grade teacher who said, "I wish you were my little girl" and teachers like Mrs. Poindexter.   My teachers have played such a vital ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The DA’s Cold-Case Quest

It is clearly a job nobody can do for over an hour or two, but Neal Pinkston, working in hand with precise professionals from the county’s auditing department, is intent on doing the right thing. As I watched a revolving team of four people at a time open and study envelopes of autopsy photographs on Tuesday, the scene would have made a fascinating television documentary. But ... (click for more)

Hurricanes Whip McMinn County, 9-1, In 5-3A Baseball

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Three times Jordan Gorman set the table. Nick Woods punched three hits to the outfield and drove Gorman home in the third, fifth and sixth innings, powering East Hamilton to a 9-1 victory over McMinn County in the opening game of the District 5-3A baseball tournament at Cleveland High School on Wednesday. “Our mission was to win this game,” Gorman said, ... (click for more)

District 5-3A Softball Tournament Plans Finalized By Coaches

District 5-3A softball coaches are now ready for the second season. They hope their teams are, too. At a luncheon to finalize plans for the district tournament on Wednesday, the opening pairings were set in stone and play will begin Friday with three games, each starting at 5 p.m. at the highest seeded team. Second-seeded Soddy-Daisy (24-7) will host No. 7 Bradley ... (click for more)