Terrell found guilty of murder

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Christopher Terrell, 51, of Marked Tree, was found guilty of first degree murder last week and sentenced to 23 years in prison after a jury deliberated for over two hours on the third day of the trial.

Terrell was arrested in 2014 along with Betty Grant, also of Marked Tree, in connection with the death of James Hunt, 49, of Tyronza, on Nov. 29, 2014. Hunt had been shot in the head with a 20 gauge shotgun and left under a burning truck on a levee near Marked Tree. Grant had originally been arrested on a murder charge as well, but her charge was later dropped to hindering apprehension. The case went to trial in 2016, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict, and it was declared a mistrial.

During last week's trial, 2nd Judicial District Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Haynes told the jury that Terrell's motive in killing Hunt was to control Grant, who was a prostitute and a meth addict who was being prostituted by Hunt, received her drugs from Hunt, and was in a sexual relationship with Terrell.

Early on in the case, Grant had confessed to former Poinsett County Detective Ron Martin that she had killed Hunt, but when Grant testified, she said she had been high on methamphetamines when she talked to Martin. Grant testified that Terrell was the one who killed Hunt. She said Terrell had called Hunt to bring them gas for the truck while they were on the levee and that she went to sleep. She was awakened by a loud noise that sounded like a gunshot and said Terrell told her to help him move Hunt's body, but she was unable to. She said Terrell dragged Hunt's body to the bottom of the levee, drove Hunt's truck over the body, and set the truck on fire. Then when Terrell got back in the truck with Grant, he told her that she was his now.

Terrell's defense attorney, Bob Digby, showed jurors Grant's original interview with Martin, where she said she killed Hunt and claimed Terrell had nothing to do with it. Digby said Grant killed Hunt because he was keeping her from seeing her children and was going to sell her, though Haynes pointed out that Grant's initial story did not match evidence at the scene.

Terrell has been incarcerated since 2014 and will have to serve 70 percent of his 23-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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