Lawyer seeks to suppress alleged confession in murder

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   An attorney defending a Carter County man accused in a March 2002 murder has filed a motion in court to suppress an alleged confession to the crime, claiming that, if a confession did occur, it was under duress.
   Timothy Demery, who was 24 at the time of the incident, was originally indicted on a charge of second degree murder in July 2002. Later that year, in November, he was re-indicted and charged with first degree murder in the death of David Harmon, of Unicoi.
   Harmon's body was found wrapped in a quilt and blanket in the bed of his truck which was parked at Clifton View Baptist Church in Johnson City. Demery was picked up for questioning and charged in the murder the next day.
   Carter County Sheriff John Henson told Star reporters at the time of Demery's arrest that investigators had spoken with Demery about the incident and learned he had called Harmon, asking him to come to his residence at 1990 King Springs Rd. to discuss money Harmon supposedly owed to him.
   According to Henson, Harmon went to Demery's house and the two men fought, which led to the shooting of Harmon. "After the shooting, Demery loaded Harmon into the back of Harmon's truck and drove him to the church parking lot on Orleans Street in Johnson City and left him in the parking lot. He then called a cab and went to a residence in Jonesborough," Henson told the Star in March 2002.
   According to police reports, an anonymous informant came to the Johnson City Police Department on the day the body was found and told investigators a murder had occurred and where the body might be located. The individual stated he received a telephone call from Demery who told him he had killed someone. The informant advised officers to go to the parking lot of Clifton View Baptist Church, where they found Harmon's body in the truck.
   After Demery was picked up by investigators, he was questioned by officers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department for approximately four hours. It is those hours of questioning a defense attorney for Demery is attempting to suppress as evidence.
   According to court records, investigators with the CCSD had video taped their conversation with Demery, but the equipment malfunctioned and only recorded half of the interrogation. Investigators allege that, during the last half of their interview with Demery, he confessed to killing Harmon.
   The motion, filed by public defender Robert Oaks who was appointed as defense counsel for Demery, asks the court to suppress testimony from investigators as to what Demery may or may not have said during the interview after the malfunction of the recording equipment. The motion also asks them to suppress any form of confession that was allegedly made by Demery and claims that investigators threatened and coerced Demery into making statements.
   "The defendant alleges that he was threatened, harassed, coerced, goaded and manipulated in order to extract the alleged confession," the motion filed in court states. "The defendant alleges that he was emotionally and physically exhausted by the coercion and intimidation to the point that the court should suppress the recorded and unrecorded statements, the same being violative of the Tennessee and United States Constitutions."
   Demery appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Tuesday and a motions hearing was set for Jan. 8, 2004 with the trial date set for April 26, 2004. There is no information as to whether a ruling will be issued when the motion is heard in January.