Sean Patrick Foley says he began taping his conversations with other people because a former boss’s inadequate instructions almost got him fired.
His fate now rests, in part, on whether a tape — a barely audible, narrated, 34-minute recording of a conversation where his former girlfriend negotiated a sexual act with Jimmy L. Shelton before Foley shot Shelton to death — also recorded a consensual act or rape on Aug. 28, 2018.
Foley, 25, cried on the witness stand during the second day of his first-degree murder trial as Blount County prosecutors Ryan Desmond and Tracy Jenkins played portions of the tape, where 26-year-old Miranda Goddard tried to stop Foley from shooting the 44-year-old Beaver Drive resident.
She was heard screaming “No!” six times and crying in the background before Foley told a dispatcher he shot Shelton after he charged him and grabbed the gun.
“He was trying to (expletive) rape you for a car!” Foley screamed on the tape.
The nature of Shelton and Foley’s relationship gained clarity Wednesday as Goddard admitted she had willfully had sex for more than a decade with a man she said was the only father she knew.
Foley told the court he believed Shelton was molesting or raping the woman, whose pants were down when Foley emerged with a gun to confront Shelton.
Goddard admitted her pants were pulled down but denied Foley’s claim that Shelton had forced her onto his lap.
They had negotiated for her to tape a sexual act with a female friend, she said, in exchange for Shelton’s help in buying her a car.
“Yes, it was consensual,” Goddard said. She also was blunt when defense attorney Aaron Kimsey asked her to describe Shelton’s influence over her.
“He was the father figure in my life,” Goddard replied.
Goddard said Shelton began molesting her when she was 12 or 13.
“That changed when I was 19,” Goddard said “We began making arrangements.”
Those negotiated sexual favors occurred both when she was drunk and when she was sober, Goddard said.
Goddard told the court she knew Foley often carried a gun but the men had a good relationship even though she had told Foley about the alleged molestation.
Shelton was investigated in 2009 but wasn’t charged due to lack of evidence.
Judge Tammy Harrington denied the prosecution’s request to admit transcripts of texts between Goddard and Shelton, who had been in a relationship with Goddard’s mother for 17 years, and also those of texts between Goddard and Foley, since they served little investigative value, the judge said.
Other texts between Shelton and Foley were allowed because they showed the men had a normal relationship after Foley moved in days before the shooting.
Foley admitted he had heard Goddard’s accusations against Shelton before he moved into the home days before the incident, but didn’t report anything unusual in the home before the shooting.
Goddard’s mother, Dawn McGinnis, cried on the stand as she recalled the events.
The two men got along normally, according to McGinnis, who added she didn’t know that Foley was armed.
“Jimmy would have required (the gun) be put up,” by locking it up safely, McGinnis said.
Events were normal the night of the shooting, according to McGinnis, who said several adults in the home stayed up late drinking to celebrate Goddard’s release from jail on a contempt charge.
Things also appeared normal when she woke up after 3 a.m., she added. She was awakened several hours later by gunshots.
McGinnis denied knowing that Shelton had reportedly had a sexual relationship with her daughter or that he was accused of molesting her when her former mother-in-law initiated a Children’s Protective Services investigation.
“He never admitted that to me,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis was led through CPR chest compressions by a Blount County E-911 operator while her pregnant daughter, Marissa McGinnis, performed mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Foley admitted he knew Goddard previously performed in erotica and also had possession of a tape of her performing acts.
He also admitted he was reprimanded by Marissa McGinnis on Facebook for posting support of her activities.
Foley, who was several inches shorter and nearly 100 pounds lighter than Shelton, testified that he fell as he tried to push Goddard out of the way to protect her when Shelton reportedly charged him and tried to grab his gun.
Photos taken by Blount County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigation deputy Andy Waters showed no injuries to either Goddard or Foley, who testified his gun went off when Shelton charged him and grabbed the weapon.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Christopher Lochmuller, who conducted Shelton’s autopsy, testified that stippling, or small burns caused by expelled gunpowder, found around some entrance wounds on Shelton’s neck and torso were consistent with shots fired from around two to three feet away.
One found on his torso also showed evidence of soot, indicating it may have been fired within a foot of Shelton.
An exit wound on Shelton’s back showed signs it was fired while his back was in contact with a firm surface, but Lochmuller couldn’t state whether it was fired while Shelton was sitting in a chair or was lying on the ground.
None of the shots would have immediately immobilized Shelton, Lochmuller added.
The trial will continue today.
Alcoa City Schools is poised to begin the search for its next director, hiring a consultant this week to lead the process.
The Alcoa Board of Education is paying $7,000 to Wayne Qualls to help find a successor to Director Brian Bell, who announced in June that he will retire at the end of this school year.
When asked by board members if he is related to Jane Qualls, who served as ACS director from 1999-2004, Wayne said he knows her and “We’re probably kin,” given the unusual name.
He is familiar to educators across Tennessee, having served as education commissioner and on the state Board of Regents. Qualls has been a principal and superintendent and has represented schools before the state legislature.
“After 51 years there’s not too many people, particularly in Tennessee, that’s involved in education that either I don’t know or I know somebody that knows them,” Qualls said, although he also helped Hawkins County hire a candidate from Los Angeles.
This will be Qualls’ 45th time helping a district hire a new director over the past 15 years, having worked for Jefferson, Roane and Hawkins counties, as well as Bristol, Kingsport ant Collierville schools.
The Alcoa school board unanimously voted to hire Qualls during a special called meeting July 29 and met with him during a work session Monday, Aug. 19, to sign the contract.
Qualls plans to meet individually with board members next month, sessions that won’t be public.
By mid-November, Qualls expects to have the criteria the board wants for the next director.
“You may want to stipulate, we want someone who’s been a principal of a school,” Qualls said as an example. “My experience is principals of schools, probably that’s one of the highest credentials for a director of schools you can have, particularly high school. Absolutely. I say it all the time, the hardest job in a school system is a high school principal.”
To gather input, Qualls said most of the time public meetings are poorly attended and “most of the time it’s people with axes to grind.” However, they could invite educators to a session he would lead.
One option that worked well in Bristol, he said, was an online survey. That received about 800 responses, about 60% from educators and the rest from parents and other community members.
“They were totally blown out by what the people said we want to see in the director, versus what they thought,” he said. Technology ranked nine. Trust, communication and respect came out on top. Data analysis was No. 8.
Alcoa board members appeared to be interested in the online option. Board member Clayton Bledsoe said educators would probably be more comfortable offering their opinions that way, too.
Alcoa will likely advertise the position through the end of the year. Qualls recommended posting the job opening through the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents, a forum that will be viewed by people from across the country, he said.
Interviews probably will be scheduled in February and March.
“I will do all the heavy lifting for you that you want me to do,” he told the board members.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for candidates to meet one-on-one with a board member rather than public interview sessions, he explained, because candidates are reluctant to make their job search public.
Qualls reminded the board members that no matter what the public and educators say, those five will make the final choice. “When it comes down to the last go-round, it’s the bottom of the ninth and two outs, you guys are going to be the ones that either strike out or hit a home run.”
“Find us a good one, we’re going to have to give you a little bonus,” Clayton Bledsoe quipped after Board Chair Julie Rochelle signed the contract at the end of their meeting.
Qualls said Hawkins County had never had a unanimous vote in a decade, and one board member told him that if the vote for director as unanimous he would make a motion to give Qualls a bonus. “We got it, he made the motion and it failed,” Qualls said as he and the Alcoa board members laughed. Qualls said all he wanted and expected was the amount in his contract.
Several private and Maryville government-initiated projects passed planning votes this week, chief among them the approval to build a multimillion-dollar substation in the city limits.
Maryville planning commissioners in a Monday meeting unanimously approved a site plan for an electric substation on West Lamar Alexander Parkway, a project slated to cost around $8 million.
It was introduced in 2020 budget talks and is the largest project for the electric department this year.
“Regional utility facilities such as the substation require a special exception from the Board of Zoning Appeals,” City Planner Jordan Clark explained to planning commissioners. “The BZA did grant that special exception this April, so now they’re coming to you all with a site plan because it is in the parkway overlay district.”
The substation is set back from the highway and is restricted by flood zones and electric line easements, commissioners noted.
“There was an attempt several years ago to develop that property and that was one of the limiting factors,” Clark agreed. “If you go out there now, you can see it had already been graded in that previous attempt. It’s not a lot of usable area.”
The city is moving out of its current substation complex on Tennessee Valley Authority land across the way on Big Springs Road. It will purchase two new transformers at $1 million apiece for the new site.
City Manager Greg McClain told commissioners the city just received bids for the transformers and estimated the whole project could take between 18 months to two years to complete.
Moving to its own site will give Maryville the ability to operate its substation independently. Though the site recently was due for an update, officials decided it was time to develop their own area, a plan that has been discussed for decades.
Planning commissioners also approved final plans for two subdivisions.
One is on Old Niles Ferry Road directly behind the Walmart on U.S. Highway 411. The request from Susan Headrick is for a subdivision titled Willis Hills with nine lots in total on nearly 4 acres.
Preliminary plans for the project were approved in October 2018.
The Cottages subdivision at Royal Oaks also received unanimous approval for revised plans. The project is being managed by Pankratz Construction, and some Royal Oaks residents appeared at the meeting to express their concern about the placement of a detention pond.
“There’s only so many ways to do drainage properly on a site, so you’re going to have to put a detention pond somewhere,” Clark told commissioners.
The detention pond was moved in new plans for development and the vice president of the Royal Oaks Homeowners Association, Channing Powers, told commissioners thata residents in the area — specifically on Innisbrook Drive — remained concerned about the pond’s placement.
“We’ve got to make sure people who live on that side aren’t negatively impacted,” Powers said.
Finally, planning commissioners approved a new design for the facade of the Brackins Blues Club building on East Broadway Avenue downtown.
The facade collapsed in the spring, and designs for a new front wall have been through the Downtown Design Review Board twice for approval with plans to make the building resemble its original, early 1900s-style facade as closely as possible.
Now that designs are approved, construction is expected to begin in the near future. A tarp has sufficed for a wall, meanwhile, and Clark said there has not been a rush for approval as details were worked out on the rather unique project.
“This was an exception,” he said. “Most buildings don’t fall down, we hope.”
The Daily Times incorrectly stated Wednesday that the Townsend Traveler would be inserted inside. The fall edition of the magazine is available only through the Townsend Visitor Center and select Townsend businesses.