Judge Lowers Bond For Man Charged In Dismemberment Murder; Attorney Says State Has No Proof Against Bigoms

Monday, August 26, 2013

Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman on Monday lowered the bond for the man charged with killing a woman whose head and arms were cut off, saying he agreed with the defense that the state has little proof against Tony Bigoms.

In the case involving the death of Dana Wilkes, the bond was lowered to $30,000 on murder and abuse of a corpse charges and $10,000 on violation of terms of his probation supervision for life on a prior sex assault conviction. Bigoms had been held on bonds totaling $250,000.

The judge said if Bigoms makes bond he will have to wear an ankle bracelet provided by House Arrest Systems of Tennessee. Joel Davenport of the firm said it will include a GPS device so that the whereabouts of Bigoms will be known at all times.

Steven Brown, assistant public defender, said, "The unlikeliness of conviction is strong. There is absolutely nothing to connect Mr. Bigoms with the death of Dana Wilkes."

However, prosecutor Neal Pinkston said the DNA of Bigoms was found on the bra of Ms. Wilkes that was found on the shoulder of Youngstown Road. Her body was found some 30 feet away on the banks of South Chickamauga Creek.

He said the DNA of Ms. Wilkes and Bigom was found on a cigarette that was in her 2000 green Jeep Cherokee.

Prosecutor Pinkston, noting the dismemberment of the victim, said Bigoms had been acquitted of a prior murder in which there was DNA evidence found in that victim's mouth and under her fingernails.

He also said that the last cell phone call received by Ms. Wilkes was from Bigoms at 2:30 a.m. shortly after she disappeared on the previous night of Nov. 9, 2012.

Concerning the bra testimony, attorney Brown said Bigoms was friends with Ms. Wilkes and her husband and had been with them on prior occasions. He said Bigoms denies having any sexual contact with her. The victim's husband was in jail at the time.

Attorney Brown said Bigoms stated that he may have accidentally called the Wilkes phone.

A girlfriend of Bigoms said he was with her in bed at 11 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2012, and was in the bed when she work up the next morning. She said she takes sleeping pills and is a heavy sleeper.

Attorney Brown said Bigoms told authorities he was with Ms. Wilkes at the Brainerd Walmart and the Murphy gas station shortly before 9 p.m. on Nov. 9. He said she then dropped him off at the Family Dollar several miles away on Brainerd Road.

Detectives found video showing the pair at Walmart and Murphy's. At the gas station, Bigoms pumped gas while Ms. Wilkes went in for cigarettes.

Attorney Brown said there were several thorough searches at three locations where Bigoms stayed. He said a number of items were sent to the TBI and nothing significant turned up.

Prosecutor Pinkston said investigators found a pair of his tennis shoes that had been bleached. The shoe strings were missing. The girlfriend said he had cleaned the shoes.

Attorney Brown said Bigoms was a landscaping student at Chattanooga State and it was not unusual to clean and dye their shoes.  

The case was set for trial next Feb. 18. 

 


Chattanooga Man Charged With Murder In Johnson City

A Chattanooga man has been charged with killing another man in Johnson City, Tn. Amando Stewart, 22, of 1701 Oak St., was arrested for second-degree murder in the death late Sunday night of LeDearrius Young, 24. When police arrived at an apartment on Mint Hill Road, they found the victim lying on the kitchen floor. Stewart was found in a vehicle outside the apartment. ... (click for more)

Walker County Arrest Report For Feb. 23-March 1

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Feb. 23-March 1: CLAIRE KATHY SUE W/F 63 Officer COKER DUI, FAILURE TO MAINTAIN LANE PITTAMN TALIA RENAE W/F 26 Officer HOLLAND FAILURE TO APPEAR (M) WHITED CHRIS DALE W/M 26 Officer SUMMERS BENCH WARRANT BENTLEY KENNETH WAYNE W/M 38 Officer VANDYKE RETURN FROM HMC JUV JUV ... (click for more)

Tennessee Deserves Better Health Reform

Tennessee needs health care reform. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," was not the best solution for Tennesseans. That is why the vast majority of Tennessee legislators never publicly supported the plan defeated in a special legislative session in February.   It is important to distinguish health care from health insurance. As one physician ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cameras Or Subterfuge?

State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) is an easy-to-like member of the Tennessee Legislature and the fact he is teaming with state senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) to rid the state of its loathsome traffic cameras is indeed a wonderful thing. The legislative action is long overdue, with the biggest winners being the out-of-state camera companies. That alone is just about all you ... (click for more)

Region 3-AA Boys Final At Chattanooga State Monday

The fifth meeting between the Brainerd Panthers and the Central Purple Pounders will be held at Chattanooga State on Monday night with the tipoff set for 7 p.m. This upcoming game will be the biggest to date as it's for the Region 3-AA boys championship. Monday's winner will be at home on Tuesday for a sectional game while the loser will be on the road Tuesday night.  Brainerd ... (click for more)

Randy Smith: Who Was Skip Viall?

The 2015 class of the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame will be inducted tonight at the Trade Center and among the inductees is Paul Jackson "Skip" Viall in the media category. Since the new inductees were announced several weeks ago, I've heard this same question asked over and over again; "Who is Skip Viall?" Some even suggested the HOF committee didn't do their homework ... (click for more)