The state is seeking a first-degree murder conviction against 57-year-old Glen Allen Donaldson for killing his son-in-law.
Prosecutor Crystle Carrion told a jury in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole on Tuesday that there was no evidence that self-defense was involved in the slaying of Adam Levi, who was 39.
However,attorney Jerry Summers said Donaldson said in a 911 call that he acted in fear after Levi pulled a knife on him. He said Levi was "a very troubled young man" and was found to have twice the legal amount of Adderall in his system, along with two other prescription medications, at the time of his death.
Ms. Carrion said the victim was shot in the back of the head as he washed dishes at his home at 3997 Niles Terrace in Ooltewah four days after Christmas in 2016.
She said no knife was found on him or near his body. She said there was a knife in a dish tray by the sink, but it had a lid of a mug on top of it at the end of the knife.
Attorney Summers said the couple was in a custody fight over their daughter, and they had also lost a child who was still born. Amanda Donaldson Levi had filed for divorce, saying her husband was abusing drugs.
He said the jury might find it was self-defense "or something in between like voluntary manslaughter."
Detective James Gienapp said officers responding to the scene around 10 p.m. could see through a glass pane in the front door a man's body. It was lying on its back near the kitchen sink. Water was still running from the sink into a cup.
The detective said the victim had a small amount of blood on his face. He was declared dead after paramedics arrived.
He said a long gun and a pistol were found in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the house.
Asked why he did not collect the knife, the county detective said, ""It did not appear to be relevant to the scene."
Ms. Carrion said the medical examiner found that Levi was shot in the back of the head at close range and the facts did not indicate self-defense.
She said Donaldson left the scene and did not call anyone until stopping at a bank parking lot a couple of miles away and dialing his brother, then police. In the 911 call he said Levi told him, "I'll cut you" so he said he got his gun out and shot him because "I was scared for my life."
Attorney Summers said there are "good families on both sides." He said the father of Donaldson was a respected police officer for 47 years.