More Witnesses Give Testimony In Bigoms Trial

Sunday, September 15, 2019 - by Joseph Dycus

Former drug dealer-turned-doughnut chef was repeatedly branded a “liar” by a defense attorney during Saturday’s trial. He was just one of several witnesses who took the stand during the fourth day of an alleged murderer’s retrial in Judge Steelman’s courtroom. 

In 2012, Tony Bigoms allegedly murdered Dana White, and then decapitated her corpse before dumping it near a creek. While he was convicted in 2014, he successfully appealed his conviction after the court of appeals found the jury and testimony violated certain laws. The retrial began on Sept. 11, and has continued every day since then. 

The first witness was Ms. Wilkes’ “best friend,” who knew both the victim, her late husband, and Bigoms. According to the witness, Bigoms and Tom Wilkes referred to each other as cousins, but believed Bigoms had less than familial feelings about Ms. Wilkes.

“He seemed to spend a lot of time with her, ” she said, “He seemed to be infatuated (with her, and wanted) to be around her.”

The witness said she tried to call Ms. Wilkes about an upcoming concert in November, but to no avail. It was only after Bigoms told her the news of Ms. Wilkes’ disappearance that she knew of her friend’s disappearance. 

“She wouldn’t just leave and not say anything. There was no way, so it just kind of flipped me out,” said the witness, who then said Tony told her he was the last one to see Ms. Wilkes, “He said she mentioned selling pills. The thing is that Dana wouldn’t go by herself. She had to have told him something. He had to know something. It didn’t make sense.”

She also noted his tone of voice, saying “In the beginning, it was fine. But the more I asked questions, the more he seemed irritated with me.”

After her was a parade of police officers and investigators, who gave corroborating stories about the inspection of Wilkes’ Jeep and the ensuing investigation of multiple residences. Pictures shown to the jury displayed a blood-splattered vehicle, but also depicted a spotless apartment lacking any evidence in terms of blood stains.

Then entered Lawan Fortson, the man the defense told the jury to pay attention to. Mr. Fortson’s phone records showed he tried to call Tom Wilkes over a dozen times in the week prior to Wilkes’ disappearance. After the jury was sent away and the judge decided to allow Mr. Fortson to testify, the drug dealer turned doughnut maker gave his side of the story.

According to the witness, he knew Tony Bigoms through Tom Wilkes, who would often work on his car. According to Mr. Fortson, he tried to call Wilkes many times to get him to work on Mr. Fortson’s car, as he was unaware Mr. Wilkes was in jail at the time. 

Mr. Fortson was shown to have received a call from Tom Wilkes’ phone on the day Ms. Wilkes went missing. According to Mr. Fortson, it was Bigoms who called him using that number, and said Bigoms facilitated a drug deal a few minutes later. Bigom’s attorney vehemently disagreed with this story.

“Have you ever talked to Dana Wilkes on the phone?” asked Bigom’s defense attorney.

“No sir,” replied the witness.

“Yes you have. That’s cause you’re lying about it, and Dana called you,” said the defense attorney, alleging it was Ms.. Wilkes who called Mr. Fortson after dropping Bigoms off at Family Dollar after their trip to Walmart. 

The trial continues on Sunday at 10 a.m. 



Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Man Convicted For 2nd Rape Ordered To Begin Serving 10 Years For First Rape

City Officer Suffers Hand Injury As Motorist Speeds Off In Early Morning Incident On W. 25th Street


Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BARNES, TAMMY RENEE 3066 OLD GRAYSVILLE RD DAYTON, 37321 Age at Arrest: 56 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF ... (click for more)

A man who has been convicted of two rapes was ordered on Monday to begin serving a 10-year sentence on the initial rape from 2016. Anthony Vance, 56, had been given a suspended sentence on ... (click for more)

A Chattanooga Police officer suffered a hand injury when a motorist sped off early Monday morning on W. 25th Street near Williams Street. Officers had been speaking to the driver of a yellow ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Arrest Report

Here is the latest Hamilton County arrest report: BARNES, TAMMY RENEE 3066 OLD GRAYSVILLE RD DAYTON, 37321 Age at Arrest: 56 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VIOLATION OF PROBATION (AGGRAVATED BURGLARY-OCCUPI --- BUNN, CHARLES BRYANT 22226 OLD CHAPEL RD NEWSOMS, 23874 Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA ... (click for more)

Man Convicted For 2nd Rape Ordered To Begin Serving 10 Years For First Rape

A man who has been convicted of two rapes was ordered on Monday to begin serving a 10-year sentence on the initial rape from 2016. Anthony Vance, 56, had been given a suspended sentence on the earlier case. He will be sentenced on the second rape from Jan. 3, 2018, next Monday. A portion of that sentencing hearing was held on Monday. Prosecutor Miriam Johnson said Vance ... (click for more)

Opinion

Would Foreign Teachers Make Better Instructors For Inner-City Students? - And Response

It seems a week doesn't go by, sometimes more in one week, without Roy or someone writing some coded messages denigrating inner-city schools and the students (using another code-hint hint) that attend inner-city schools. Which reminded me of something from decades ago about teachers from foreign countries perhaps making better instructors for inner city students. At least those ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Same Ole ‘Bored’

As it just so happened, on the same day the Hamilton County School Board held a special two-hour meeting on Monday over disturbing disciplinary concerns among its 44,000 students, the Nashville Tennessean published a revealing report on school suspensions in the Nashville Metro Public Schools. After five years and a $2 million study, the results were available -- Nashville had launched ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Soccer Records Another Shutout At Citadel

The Chattanooga women’s soccer team earned a record-tying eighth shutout with a 2-0 win over The Citadel Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference action at the Washington Light Infantry Field. The Mocs improve to 8-4-3 on the year and 3-2-1 in league action. The Citadel falls to 5-6-2 overall and 1-4 against the conference. The Mocs matched a school record eight shutouts set ... (click for more)

Dan Fleser: 91-Yard Drive Was UT Highlight

KNOXVILLE – Of all the work that went into Tennessee’s first SEC football victory in 11 months, Jeremy Pruitt seemed to linger over one achievement in particular. The 91-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that clinched the Vols’ 20-10 victory over Mississippi State was the best combination of execution and effort. It drew first mention by UT’s coach on Monday, in advance ... (click for more)