Man Charged With Being Ring Leader Of "Hell's Kitchen" Meth House, Suspect In Killing Of Monroe County Election Commissioner Given 25 Years

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A man charged with being the ring leader of the "Hell's Kitchen" meth house and a suspect in the murder of the Monroe County Election Commission chairman was sentenced Thursday to serve 25 years in federal prison.

Wallace Stokes, 40, appeared before Federal Judge Curtis Collier.

During the hearing, TBI Agt. Josh Melton identified Stokes as a suspect in the slaying of businessman Jim Miller in front of "Hell's Kitchen" on Creek Road at Sweetwater.

When the agent denied that he made promises to Stokes after he gave information about the meth operation at his parents' home, Stokes spoke out, "That's a lie. He's a liar." Stokes apologized after being admonished by Judge Collier.

At the time of his sentencing, Stokes turned to Agt. Melton and said, "I hope, Josh, you find out who killed Jim Miller. I hope with all my heart you do. I think it played a big part in all of this."

Agt. Melton, who called Stokes "a very volatile person," said he believes he came forward with the drug admissions "to divert attention away from the homicide."

Jessica Kennedy is the only person charged thus far in the Miller murder. She was found guilty and given a 22-year sentence. Jim Miller was shot three times in the head and his body was placed in the trunk of a car. His vehicle was later set on fire. It is not known why he was at "Hell's Kitchen."

Agt. Melton earlier said at least 15 people were making meth at the property belonging to the family of Stokes, who earlier served time in state prison after being convicted of trying to hire the murder of a TBI agent who was seeking to buy drugs from him undercover and whose cover was blown.

Agent Melton said Stokes got out of state prison in March 2008 and was back involved in drugs within six months. He said he first lived with a girlfriend in Meigs County, then moved to his parents' place on Creek Road after they moved to Florida. He said Stokes then allowed a number of people to use the property to produce large quantities of meth. He said Stokes was given a portion of the produce. The agent said Stokes later began cooking meth himself.

Seven others arrested in the "Hell's Kitchen" operation with Stokes were also sentenced. Melanie O'Connor, 54,  and Deveria McCall, 37, who were described as "smurfs" who went out and purchased pseudoephedrine, got 70 months. Judge Collier noted that in some federal jurisdiction "smurfs" are not prosecuted. However, they are in this jurisdiction, and he said half the court's cases are drug prosecutions. He said in some federal jurisdictions that drug cases make up 25-30 percent.  

Charles Brown got 92 months and Hank Sherwood 160 months. Shane Runyon, 39, was given 148 months and Joseph Duncan, 32, got 151 months. Raymond Knox received 57 months. 

Brown had been facing as high as 137 months, but prosecutor Michael Porter said he gave valuable help to the government that led Stokes to plead guilty.

Brandon "Rooster" Steele, 35, was earlier sentenced by Judge Curtis Collier to serve 135 months. He was also listed as a suspect in the July 2010 Miller killing. 

Prosecutor Porter said meth was cooked at the Stokes property for over four years with more than three kilograms produced.

Stokes also said during the hearing, "We all had addictions and we were feeding that addiction."

Judge Collier said it was the most people he has sentenced at any one time.





NAACP's Mapp Says IDB Should Not Be "Rubber Stamp"; Questions Deals For Black Creek, VW

Longtime Chattanooga NAACP leader James Mapp said Thursday that industrial development boards "should not be rubber stamps." He questioned deals through the City IDB for the Black Creek group and Volkswagen. Mr. Mapp said, "Throughout our nation's history, the lack of representative government has always been a point of contention for Americans, and a chief cornerstone of ... (click for more)

Man, 34, Dies Shortly After Being Arrested In Crossville

A 34-year-old arrestee died at Crossville on Sunday. Sheriff Butch Burgess said Rustin Grayson was brought to the Cumberland County Justice Center intake for processing after being arrested by the Crossville Police Department. Jail staff advised that when Crossville Police arrived at intake Grayson was unable to get out of the patrol vehicle without assistance. The Crossville ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mark’s 50th Anniversary Toast

In the new book that celebrates the first 50 years of baseball’s Southern League, its splendid author Mark McCarter recalls that very early in his career as a sports writer, he was riding with his boss somewhere and mentioned that if the legendary Allan Morris ever needed help covering the Chattanooga Lookouts that he’d love to help. Today, as he looks back, he ruefully adds, “I ... (click for more)

Jones, Vols Meet The Press A Day Before Fall Football Begins

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- What did  Butch Jones  have to say about Tennessee’s 2014 football team on the eve of the Vols' first practice? Find out in this transcript of Thursday’s press conference:  HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES (Opening Statement) "It's great to see everyone, and I hope everyone had a great summer. We will hold an open practice on Saturday ... (click for more)

Jane Webb Is A Fun-Loving Runner At Heart

Jane Webb isn’t one of those people who started running when she was a kid, but she loves the benefits since she restarted her running career about four years ago. She’s all about being active and doing things that are good for you,   but long-distance running never really captured her attention and she’s found that she can receive the same payoff by covering ... (click for more)