Charges Bound To Grand Jury In Beating Of Man Just Outside Market Street Karaoke Bar

Monday, April 28, 2014

Charges have been bound to the Grand Jury against two men in the beating of a third man just outside a karaoke bar on Market Street.

Prosecutor Dave Denny said Jack Payne and Joseph Brian Allen were justified in getting 56-year-old Russell Miller away from a woman he had collared, but not in a follow-up beating.

He said, "We cannot allow the drunken revelers in a bar to determine who deserves a beating. That would mean we would have bar justice and not court justice."

Defense attorney Bryan Hoss had contended that Miller "got everything he deserved" after earlier taunting a 67-year-old longtime foe inside Sing It or Wing It and than agitating the man's step-son, Allen.

Police Officer Daniel Russell said he decided to bring charges of aggravated assault after finally being able to view videotape of the Oct. 23 incident. The video, which shows almost the entire incident, was shown several times during the two-hour court hearing.

The officer said a third man, Michael Brown, was allegedly involved at the start of the fight. He said charges may still be brought against Brown, noting that Miller has hired a private investigator to help.

The officer said the video shows that after Melissa Payne, wife of Jack Payne, had gotten loose from Miller's grasp, that Miller was hit repeatedly in the head by Allen and Payne as well as being kicked by Payne while he was down.

Miller, who was at the bar with girl friend Christie Murphy, admitted going over to Junior King and calling him a vile name. He said, "We have disrespected each other for a long time."

Allen said Miller also called him names and made gestures toward him after accosting his step-father. He said he told Miller that his step-father recently had a stroke and couldn't fight back. Allen, 36, said he had a stroke himself a short time after the incident.

Allen said he tried to diffuse the situation by buying a round of drinks for everyone, but it didn't work.

He said he followed Miller out the door and then saw Miller intervening in a shoving match between Ms. Payne and the Miller girl friend. He and other defense witnesses said Miller came up from behind and lifted Ms. Payne up after getting a grasp around her neck. Allen, who said he had never been in trouble before - "not even in the principal's office" - said he then started hitting Miller to get him to let go.

At that time, Ms. Allen and Jack Payne were up on the stage singing a Kenny Chesney song. But Payne cut the tune short and hurried out when the action started.

The beating continued out the door with Miller lying on the sidewalk sustaining repeated blows.

Attorney Hoss said of Miller, "He's the problem. He wanted to start a fight."

Prosecutor Denny said not many bar fights make it to court "because we don't have it on video. This one we can view almost all of it."

He said the victim "was severely beaten while he was defenseless."

Miller said he had a broken nose, facial bruising and bruised ribs. He said his ACL was torn during the melee and he had to have surgery. He said, "Afterward for three or four weeks I could barely get out of a chair."

Melissa Payne, who said she may have had five drinks, was charged that evening with disorderly conduct and public drunk when she declined to follow an officer's directive to sit down on the curb.

Prosecutor Denny noted that it was the women fighting that got it all started.

Judge Shattuck said, "It would have been better if they had just let the women settle it."

He added, "They should have been there just to have a good time. Instead, we've got adults acting like five-year-olds."

Cook Arrested For Aggressive Panhandling On Gunbarrel Road

Chattanooga Police have charged Anthony Lebron Cook with aggressive panhandling on Gunbarrel Road. Cook, 51, is also charged with public intoxication. An officer said he responded to Panda Express on a panhandling call. Employees said they had asked Cook to leave multiple times, but he refused. They said he kept asking for money for food. When the officer arrived, Cook ... (click for more)

Haslam Proposes $30 Million For School Safety

Governor Bill Haslam Tuesday proposed $30 million to improve school safety across the state in the amendment to the fiscal year 2018-19 budget proposal to be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks. The funding includes $25 million in nonrecurring and $5.2 million in recurring school safety grants. Earlier this month, the governor appointed a School Safety Working ... (click for more)

The Panhandling "Tax" On Gunbarrel

I’ve been reading about the panhandling problem in downtown; it is a huge problem in the Gunbarrel area, too.  It’s commonplace to be accosted by panhandlers when walking from your parked car into a commercial establishment.  And often they are aggressive.  I look carefully around my car before getting out, but sometimes someone will be lurking in between cars and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Meme From The Meanies

Hardly a day goes past that I don’t receive several strings of memes in my incoming emails and yesterday there was one particular collection that gave me pause for thought. First, here’s the definition of a meme: “An Internet meme (/mi?m/ MEEM) is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry or for humorous purposes, from person to person via ... (click for more)

Keiser, Wigg Power Ooltewah Past East Hamilton, 9-5, in 5-3A Baseball

(Story will be updated) Disappointed by an early season hitting slump, Ooltewah left-fielder Payton Keiser broke loose with four hits, including a clutch three-run triple in a five-run seventh inning, and drove in five runs as the Owls beat rival East Hamilton, 9-5, Tuesday in District 5-3A action in horrible weather for baseball. With off-and-on showers, a brisk wind ... (click for more)

Lady Vols Fall To Oregon State, 66-59, In 2nd Round Of NCAA's

KNOXVILLE-- Senior center Mercedes Russell logged her 46th career double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead Tennessee, but it wasn't enough as the No. 12/13 Lady Vols (25-8) fell to No. 13/12 Oregon State (25-7) in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Freshman Anastasia Hayes also had a double-digit outing for the No. 3 seed Lady Vols, posting ... (click for more)