Carter murder case sent to grand jury

By Kathy Helms-Hughes


   A Carter County man was bound over to the grand jury Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and two counts sale of Schedule VI, following back-to-back preliminary hearings in General Sessions Court.
   Timothy Lee Demery, 24, was arrested March 14 and charged with the shooting death of David Harmon, 1531 Whispering Pines Road, Unicoi. Harmon's body was found wrapped in a blanket and quilt in the bed of his pickup at a Johnson City church on Orleans Street.
   Demery was apprehended later at a trailer in Jonesborough, where he was found hiding under some clothes.
   According to testimony presented by Carter County Sheriff's Department Criminal Investigator Sgt. George Skeans, officers were summoned to the scene of the shooting, 1990 King Springs Road, Johnson City -- just a few yards inside Carter County -- around 4:30 p.m. March 14.
   Sgt. Skeans said he was at the scene only about 15 minutes and did not get past the yard when he was called to Johnson City Police Bureau to take statements from witnesses.
   Lt. Jamie Jenkins, Audrey Covington and Chris Pierce of the Criminal Investigation Division, Chief Deputy James Parrish, Sheriff John Henson and Deputy Dean Jones conducted the investigation at the crime scene, Skeans said. They recovered a .25 automatic pistol, a .22 rifle, a knife, doors with writing on them, blood-stained carpet, a bedspread and other items.
   After being taken into custody, Demery was transported to Carter County Sheriff's Department for questioning. The four-hour interview was videotaped, however, Sgt. Skeans said, the video recorder apparently jammed after the first two hours. Skeans discovered the problem with the tape about a week ago when he went to record a copy in preparation for the hearing.
   Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Mark Hill, Skeans said Demery had paged Harmon a couple of times around 7:30-8:30 the night of the 13th and again paged him at approximately 11:30 and then around midnight.
   "He said to me that he thought that either Harmon or one of Harmon's friends had taken $220 from the mobile home where he lived and he wanted the $220 back," Skeans said. He also told the investigator that an altercation occurred when he approached Harmon for the money.
   At the trailer that evening, Skeans said, "Mr. Demery stated to me that he along with Mr. Harmon had been smoking crack cocaine and he had also been smoking crack cocaine mixed with marijuana." Lab results indicated cocaine, marijuana, tranquilizers and alcohol present in Harmon's system.
   Skeans said Demery gave him three different stories regarding the events at the mobile home on King Springs Road. Skeans said Demery first told him: "He and Mr. Harmon were in the mobile home alone and after the argument broke out and the fight started, the door crashed open and two additional people entered and a fight ensued. They had handguns. He ran and got the rifle and came back."
   Skeans said Demery also told him that Harmon had arrived with two other subjects.
   "The final statement when Mr. Demery broke down -- he became visibly shaken and gave me a statement saying he and Mr. Harmon were the only two people in the mobile home. A fight had broken out, he had knocked Mr. Harmon down, kicked him, stomped him and got the weapon and came back and emptied the weapon.
   "He said he then went to the refrigerator and got a half-gallon of vodka out of the refrigerator, went into the bathroom and sat down. We asked Mr. Demery if anyone else came in the door of that mobile home. He said, 'No, no one else came in.' " A bottle of vodka was recovered from the bathroom floor.
   Skeans testified that Harmon died as a result of gunshot wounds, according to the autopsy report prepared by Dr. Gretel Harlan of Quillen-Dishner College of Medicine.
   The autopsy indicated "there were 15 bullet paths to the trunk and extremities of the victim's body," Skeans said. One gunshot wound was to the head near the bridge of the nose.
   Skeans said he followed up on information given him by Demery and went to 405 Colorado St., where Demery told him that he had changed clothes. Skeans said he found a torn white T-shirt and dark trousers with stains on them. "The clothing had been put in a separate plastic bag tucked inside another plastic bag inside a garbage can outside the residence," Skeans said.
   Bob Oaks, public defender appointed to represent Demery, asked Sgt. Skeans whether photographs taken by investigators showed any evidence that the front door had been kicked open. Skeans said they did not.
   "In the statement that Mr. Demery gave you, he told you all about what had happened, the shooting. Then he talked about hiding or being in the bathroom until 5 a.m. because he was afraid the people were still around," Oaks said.
   "He told you about things that had been written on the bathroom door in case he didn't survive -- in case he didn't make it out?" Oaks asked.
   "That's correct," Skeans replied. The message, which included two names, was written on a brown door with white chalk, he said.
   "Mr. Demery told you that he was writing what might be his last words about what happened ...," Oaks said.
   "He told me about five stories," Skeans replied. ...
   "And you found evidence of that on the door?" Oaks asked.
   "I did," Skeans said. "The bedroom door also had some chalk writing on it."
   Mark Hill asked Skeans whether a gun residue test was performed on Demery.
   "I didn't think that was advisable since he had stated that he had taken a shower and shaved his head and bathed a couple of times," Skeans said.
   Harold Bishop II, Demery's cousin who also lived at the King Springs residence, testified Wednesday that he had been staying at his mother's home where he would have transportation to work.
   Bishop said Demery called him at his mother's around 6-6:30 a.m. on the day the body was discovered, and asked whether Bishop would come and get him. Bishop told Demery he didn't have a vehicle and couldn't go get him. "Then he said he had shot Dave and put his body in the truck and took it to the church ... and said he wanted a ride."
   Bishop said he returned to the trailer after work that evening to get a change of clothes. " He said the water in the bathtub was on when he arrived and he turned it off. He didn't enter Demery's bedroom, he said.
   What Demery had told him earlier in the day began to register. "I grabbed my clothes and left and drove up by the church and saw the truck. I think it was a green Mazda with a camper top."
   He recognized the camper top, he said. He then went to his father's house and "asked everybody what I should do." He got his cousin to take him to Johnson City Police Bureau where he told an officer: " 'I might have to report a murder, maybe' -- I didn't know what to tell them."