Maryville man claims self-defense in wife’s killing
By J.J. Kindred | (email@example.com)
A Maryville man accused of murdering his estranged wife claimed during a video interview with Alcoa police investigators that he was defending himself from her.
The interview was played Friday during the third day of the trial of Jeffrey Scott Long, 50, charged with the murder of 57-year-old Janas Long in the Lakemont Village Apartment complex off Alcoa Highway in Louisville on Sept. 10, 2009.
A Blount County Circuit Court jury saw video footage of the interview with Jeffrey Long, conducted by Alcoa Det. Kris Sanders, the lead investigator of the case, and Alcoa police investigator Susan Burcham.
Sanders took the witness stand and explained he was the on-call detective during the incident and was at Janas Long’s apartment taking video footage and pictures on the scene, and gave other brief aspects of the scene, which led to the viewing of the video footage of the interview, presented by prosecuting assistant district attorneys Betsy Smith and Shari Tayloe.
Long said in the interview that he was at his wife’s apartment, despite the fact that he was under an order of protection, to see if she had another man there.
“I just wanted to knock on her door,” Long said. “I wanted to walk in and see if there was someone in there with her. I was (ticked) off because I was under an order of protection and we had gotten evicted. She was mad because I didn’t pay the rent. She had as much obligation.
“I didn’t want to cause a scare,” Long continued. “I was probably there for about five to six minutes, and when she saw me in there, she was (ticked). I wanted to leave and didn’t want any trouble.
“She said, ‘I could kill you and there’s not a (darn) thing you could do about it.’ I turned around and that’s when she grabbed the knife. I thought she was going to stab me, and the rest was a scrap. That’s when I hit her with the hammer. I wasn’t trying to kill her. Once it started, I knew I was going to be in trouble anyway.”
When Sanders asked where the knife was, Long responded, “I picked it up off the floor and ran. I had to lay the hammer down, and I reached over to grab the knife, trying to get the (heck) out of there. I was trying to get stuff away from her, and she was trying to stab me anywhere she could stab me. We continuously wrestled, but she was like a little worm — you couldn’t hold on to her.
“Someone knocked on the door, and they knocked really loud,” Long continued. “I actually got the knife away from her and that’s when I stabbed her in the neck. I thought about killing myself with her. But (someone) knocked on the door twice, and I had to go.”
Long said his wife was still alive when he attempted to leave her apartment out of the back window in her bedroom.
“She was still alive and moving when I left, and I didn’t look back,” Long said. “I didn’t know if she was going to get up. I said I’ve got to get out of this apartment, or she could stab me in the heart or in the back. When we were on the floor, it got worse and worse. I said, ‘Jan, give me the knife.’ If she had dropped the knife, it would have been over with. All of this stuff happened so fast.”
Long was also asked about the night that members of the 5th Judicial Drug Task Force and Blount County SWAT team came to arrest Long at the Shamrock Hotel and Courtyard Apartments in Maryville, where he was living at the time of the slaying. He was found in his apartment covered in blood and profusely bleeding from his left arm.
He was lumped in a chair and was holding a picture of Janas Long and had a handwritten note that appeared to be suicidal.
“I just wanted to make sure someone could contact my mom so she could bury me,” Long said.
Long shared the history of the relationship between him and his wife, claiming that she left most of the responsibility of their finances to him. He said he helped take care of her adult children and grandchildren when their families were down on their luck, and were living with them off and on.
Although his wife had a decent job with Rockford Manufacturing Company, he said she didn’t help out much financially when his business was slow, and also spent a lot of her paychecks and other money she earned on lottery tickets. At one point, she even worked for him, he said.
Sanders and Burcham asked Long if he was upset that his wife was dead.
“No, I’m not happy about it at all,” Long responded. “I laid out in jail for a day or two and all I thought about was her when I was at the hospital. I didn’t know what else to do or say. I wish it wasn’t this way.”
Meanwhile, the only other witness of the day was Dr. Darnika Milensnic-Polchan, chief medical examiner in Knox and Anderson counties and an associate professor of pathology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Milensnic-Polchan conducted the autopsy on Janas Long, working with Sanders. She determined that the main cause of Janas Long’s death was multiple sharp force trauma, blunt force trauma and strangulation.
There were about 41 blunt force injuries and 14 sharp force injuries on Janas Long, Milensnic-Polchan said.
Autopsy pictures were shown to the jury, featuring bruises and stab wounds on Janas Long’s neck and hands, as well as several abrasions on her head, possibly as the result of the blunt force caused by the hammer.
The trial will continue at 9 a.m. Monday in Judge David Duggan’s courtroom, featuring the conclusion of the video interview, cross-examination of Sanders by Jeffrey Long’s attorney, George Maifair, and defense witness testimony.