Butler man charged with shooting wife

Photo by Dave Boyd
Investigation Continues Investigators from the Carter County SheriffÕs Department were back at the scene of a recent shooting on Whaleytown Road Tuesday afternoon. Kathy Reece was shot in the face early Sunday morning at the residence.

Mother charged with trying to bribe witnesses

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
and Abby Morris


A Butler man was arraigned Tuesday in Carter County General Sessions Court on charges of attempted first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm after he allegedly shot his wife, Kathy Jean Lyons Reece, 30, in the mouth early Sunday morning, according to Carter County Sheriff John Henson.
Lester Reece, 35, 474 Whaleytown Road, and his mother, Margaret Mayse Reece Calderon, 55, 151 Jackson Ave., were taken into custody Monday afternoon following questioning by sheriff's department investigators. Calderon was charged with two counts of bribing a witness, which is a class "C" felony.
Sheriff Henson said Reece, who had been sought by authorities since the 1 a.m. shooting, came to the sheriff's department around 1 p.m. Monday with his attorney, David Crockett, and family members.
Henson said Lester Reece is a convicted felon. "He's not supposed to have a firearm." However, "through investigation and witnesses, we can prove that he did have two weapons in his possession that day.
"He hasn't made any statement, but we have enough to charge him with shooting Kathy. She's in critical condition in Johnson City Medical Center," Henson said.
Reece's mother was arrested and held without bond after "she tried to get a couple of witnesses to make false statements about the matter," Henson said.
According to a police report by Sgt. Audrey Covington of the CCSD Criminal Investigations Division, Calderon approached two witnesses who were standing outside the sheriff's department waiting to be interviewed by investigators. "Calderon approached (the first witness) and told him if he lied to investigators that he would receive something," Covington states in her report. "She then approached (the second witness) and told him that if he lied to the investigators she would give him pills or money." Covington further states in her report that both of the witnesses reported to investigators that Calderon had approached them about giving false statements.
The couple's two children were home when the shooting occurred. According to the sheriff's department, the 9-year-old boy was asleep on the couch in the living room, the same room in which his mother was shot. An 11-year-old girl was awake in her bedroom.
The girl originally told the sheriff, who was first to arrive on the scene, that a masked gunman entered the home and shot her mother, then left on foot. Sheriff Henson said the girl was on the phone with 911 "and very hysterical" when he arrived at the mobile home.
But Monday night, Henson said, "There was no masked man. One of the witnesses confirmed that that was untrue. The little girl was basically doing what she was told to say.
"According to our investigation, they had a cookout up there that day, and Lester had been threatening Kathy all day. They had been arguing. It was a domestic situation that ignited later on that night and wound up with her getting shot."
A sheriff's department press release stated that several people arrived at the Reece home around 2 p.m. Saturday for a cookout. Mrs. Reece, her daughter, and a female visitor went to a grocery store in Elizabethton to get food and supplies for the cookout. When they returned, Lester Reece began yelling at his wife about how long they had been gone.
Witnesses attending the cook-out said Reece continued to yell and curse at his wife throughout the day, and that Reece also had been outside on the porch shooting rounds from a pistol into a tree, according to the release.
The witnesses didn't leave the Reece home until around 11:30 p.m. As they were leaving, the release states, the 11-year-old girl hugged one of the female visitors and asked her not to leave "because she was scared daddy was going to hurt momma."
Shortly thereafter, Reece allegedly used a .357 or a .38 to shoot his wife in the face, then fled into the woods before officers arrived.
Sheriff Henson said that while neither of the weapons Reece was shooting on Saturday have been found, ammunition from both of the guns was recovered from the scene.
The cookout was not the first instance of Reece displaying domestic violence toward his wife, according to police reports. On June 10, 2002, officers of the Elizabethton Police Department were called to the EPD office to speak to a woman about a domestic disturbance. "Upon arrival I spoke with Margaret Calderon who stated that her daughter-in-law, Kathy Reece, called her residence around 4 a.m. this date and told her that Lester Reece, Mrs. Calderon's son, had hit her in the face and threatened to kill her if she told anyone," EPD Ptl. Shannon Peters. "Mrs. Calderon stated that she was told that Mr. Reece had left the residence in Butler with the couple's two minor children."
Calderon then stated to the officer that around 8:15 a.m. she found her son and her grandchildren at a residence on Cherry Street. "Mrs. Calderon advised that Mr. Reece told her if she went to the police and told he would kill her," the report by Peters states.
According to that report, the officer advised Calderon that since the alleged assault occurred in the county, Calderon would have to take her daughter-in-law to the sheriff's department to report it and obtain the proper paperwork. There was no record at the Carter County Sheriff's Department of Reece having been arrested on a domestic violence related charge.
Reece does have a record of several arrests by officers of the CCSD that includes charges ranging from burglary and disorderly conduct to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the sale of Schedule III narcotics.
Calderon also has a criminal record. In November of 1995, Calderon pled guilty to a charge of theft over $500 in Carter County Criminal Court. She was sentenced to two years incarceration with the Tennessee Department of Corrections, with a one year suspension. She was also sentenced to a total of five years of probation with one year of supervised probation.
Monday afternoon, two witnesses who had attended the cookout went to the sheriff's department to give a statement. It was while they were standing outside waiting to be called into the Criminal Investigations Division office that Calderon allegedly asked the witnesses to give false statements about the incident to investigators. She then was arrested and charged with two counts of bribing a witness.
Henson said that following Lester Reece's arrest, it was learned that he also was wanted on a violation of probation warrant out of Criminal Court. Reece is being held without bond on the probation violation and General Sessions Court Judge John Walton set a $25,000 corporate bond in the shooting incident. Reece is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court again on Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m. Calderon is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Friday morning.