Court starts 1998 murder retrial process
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A motion hearing was held in Blount County Circuit Court Tuesday morning for a Knoxville man who has been granted a retrial of his conviction in the 1998 murder of a Louisville woman.
The hearing comes more than 10 years after a Blount County jury convicted Douglas Franklin Jordan Jr., 42, of the second-degree murder of Jennifer Byerley, 22.
Jordan was serving a 23-year sentence when the state Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction in April 2011.
The appellate court in Knoxville found that the state had withheld two pieces of evidence from the defendant — evidence that could be construed as favorable or strengthening for his defense.
Gena Lewis, Jordan’s attorney, argued several motions in front of Judge David Duggan and Blount County Assistant District Attorney Shari Tayloe, including:
• a memo that questioned the integrity of the police investigation;
• a paring knife that was found in a field a month after the murder, and not far from the victim’s body.
Lewis claimed there might be other evidence floating, but Tayloe and Duggan disputed that.
“This trial was more than 10 years ago, and we’ve had to try to put it back together,” Tayloe said.
“This is getting to the point of ridiculous,” Duggan said. “At this point there is no reason to believe that any other evidence has been turned over.”
Duggan recommended that Lewis and Tayloe hold a discovery conference to determine any further evidence and if there are any witnesses.
A status hearing has been scheduled for March 25, with a date for retrial yet to be determined.
Jordan was living at the Airport Inn on Alcoa Highway when Byerley, who was deaf and mute, was killed March 12, 1998. Her body, with her throat slashed, was found on the side of Wheeler Road near the Maryville Wastewater Treatment Plant. Investigators quickly determined the young woman had been killed somewhere else and her body dumped there.
Soon after the indictment was issued, Blount County Sheriff James L. Berrong, then-Det. Scott Carpenter and several Sheriff’s officers attempted to locate Jordan in Knox County at a construction site where he was supposed to be working. However, Jordan’s employer was apparently unsure about which of several sites Jordan‘s crew was working and he was not found at the site the officers visited.
Initially, investigators believed Jordan was living in Seymour but later learned he had moved to an address on Deadrick Drive in Knoxville.
Blount County deputies assisted by Knox County deputies went to Jordan‘s residence. While they were at the residence, officers saw Jordan passing in a white Oldsmobile Cutlass. Carpenter said Jordan attempted to hide his face and drove past the officers.
He turned right onto Kimberlin Heights Road. Officers pursued Jordan, who pulled into a private gravel driveway in an apparent attempt to evade the deputies. Carpenter said the officers noticed dust rising into the air from the driveway and followed the dust into the drive.
Jordan was apprehended at the end of the drive near a residence, placed into custody and taken to the Blount County Detention Facility. He was one of several people questioned in the days immediately after Byerley was slain, and later served with the indictment charging him with second-degree murder for the death of Byerley.