“Molestation, manipulation and mischaracterization.”
The same words defense attorney Aaron Kimsey used to open Sean Patrick Foley’s trial for first-degree murder on Tuesday closed his case on Thursday.
The jury had plenty of questions, but no verdict by late afternoon.
Foley, 25, testified Wednesday that he shot 44-year old Maryville resident Jimmy L. Shelton to death on Aug. 28, 2018, because he believed Shelton was molesting his former girlfriend, 26-year-old Miranda Goddard.
Kimsey’s summation came full circle as he played an audio recording of Goddard crying and speaking aloud in a Blount County Sheriff’s deputy’s patrol vehicle.
“He was only trying to protect me!,” Goddard said during part of the recording.” He was trying to molest me. Please he wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t anything. He was trying to protect me. Please. Sean was trying to protect me.”
Goddard had testified Wednesday that she had told Foley, with whom she had been involved for about a month prior to the incident, that Shelton began molesting her around age 12.
Goddard’s answer was terse when prosecutor Tracy Jenkins asked her if she also had testified that she was in no danger and needed no protection that night from Foley against Shelton, with whom she had willingly engaged in sex since she was 19.
“Yes, I said that,” Goddard said.
Foley testified Wednesday that he taped a conversation between Shelton and Goddard for nearly 23 minutes that night before emerging with a gun to save Goddard from being molested by Shelton.
Blount County Assistant Attorney General Tracy Jenkins had a simpler summation of Foley’s actions after he audiotaped Goddard and Shelton arranging a sexual act for money.
“The use of deadly force was not necessary on Jimmy Shelton that night,” Jenkins said. “Maybe Sean felt like he could have punched him in the nose, but not shoot him by firing off eights shots.”
The state recognizes certain forms of self-defense as justified, Jenkins said, describing Foley as laying in wait to tape Shelton and Goddard engaging in sex to justify shooting Shelton.
“This is not one of those cases,” Jenkins said. “The defendant knew what was happening between Miranda and Jimmy. He’d known for some time about their particular history and he knew what was happening that particular night. He didn’t just happen upon them in at the middle of the night, in some kind of sexually compromising position. He watched and he listened.”
The court previously learned that Shelton had been in a relationship for nearly two decades with Goddard’s mother, Dawn McGinnis, when he was killed.
Foley had moved into the home earlier in the week, but had no problems until that night after he was sent into the house around 5:30 a.m. after a night of drinking while Shelton and Goddard stayed in the backyard.
He began taping the two after hearing Shelton offer Goddard $300 to help her purchase a car if she would tape a sexual act with a female friend.
Foley confronted Shelton with a gun after hearing them engage in an intimate act.
“I can arrange it,” Goddard was heard saying on the tape. “I can make it happen. Trust me, I’m about money.”
Other audio snippets, some narrated by Foley, showed Goddard assuring Shelton that Foley wouldn’t mind their arrangement, since he would receive a car, and that he would stay out of the way.
Shelton also was recorded telling Goddard, just before he was shot, that he didn’t want her mother to find out about the deal.
The court also learned Wednesday that Foley and her family knew Goddard had sold tapes of the two of them having relations.
Goddard, a former stripper, also admitted she formerly made money selling lingerie photos.
She and Shelton were engaging in a consensual act when Foley ran out with a gun, she said.
“Are some of the things that have happened here in the past distasteful, to say it gracefully?,” Jenkins said. “Of course it is, but we don’t have vigilante justice here in the state of Tennessee or the United States.”
Kimsey offered a different view.
“The state left out the part where he (Shelton) crossed that deck and put his hand on that gun,” Kimsey said.
Tests performed on DNA found on the gun showed two different people had touched the weapon. At least one was male, Kimsey said.
Foley told the jury Shelton, who outweighed him and often carried a gun, had reached into his shorts pocket immediately before charging across a 14-foot deck to tackle him as Foley pointed his weapon at him.
No weapon was found on Shelton, prosecutor Ryan Desmond said.
Desmond also pointed out that autopsy reports showed at least one shot was fired as Shelton’s back was pressed against a hard surface.
It’s unlikely that the victim flew through the air, Matrix-style, in a chair as he was shot, Desmond said, which left only two other options.
One was that Foley shot him to finish him off as he stood over him on the deck.
“He (Kimsey) said there’s no blood on the porch,” Desmond said. “OK, so what’s your other option? Jimmy’s not charging, he’s sitting in a chair.”
Both men were wearing shorts, which would have bulged if either was carrying a weapon, Desmond said, refuting Foley’s claim he was already armed and didn’t seek out his weapon before he confronted Shelton.
Desmond also questioned why Foley told investigators Shelton had reached into his pocket for his alleged gun after he told a 911 operator that he saw Shelton stick his hand down his own pants while he was with Goddard.
“What this boils down to is, it’s about anger, it’s about jealousy,” Desmond said.
Judge Tammy Harrington opened Thursday morning by disqualifying a juror for a rules violation before warning those in the audience to avoid behavior that could influence their decision.
The jury will resume deliberations this morning.