Kingston courthouse shooting
The 2005 Roane County Courthouse shooting, also referred to as the Kingston courthouse shooting, was the fatal shooting of a Tennessee Department of Correction transport officer, and the wounding of another officer in Kingston, Tennessee, United States. The incident took place on August 9, 2005 and the shooter was Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte (born February 11, 1974). Her husband, George Hyatte, pleaded guilty to a robbery charge in the courthouse right before she pulled out the gun and started shooting. Jennifer Hyatte is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. On March 9, 2009, George Hyatte pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2005 fatal shooting of Correctional Officer Wayne "Cotton" Morgan, attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Correctional Officer Larry "Porky" Harris, and felony escape. He was sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty.
At approximately 10:00 a.m., during a court hearing, Tennessee Department of Correction transport officer Wayne "Cotton" Morgan was fatally shot three times by Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte, whose husband, George Hyatte, pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery in the courtroom, and screamed "Shoot him! [the officer]" right before she opened fire. The officer was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses claimed that Jennifer Hyatte stormed out of the courthouse, where she got into a Ford Explorer, which was later found abandoned. Police later announced that they believed she was driving a gold Chevrolet Venture with the license plate number GFU-155. They also said that George Hyatte got into the Ford Explorer that his wife was driving.
On August 10, the Chevrolet Venture used was found in the parking lot of an Econo Lodge in Erlanger, Kentucky, but neither Hyatte was found. The same night the Hyattes were charged with first-degree murder.
On August 10, 2005, around 10:00 p.m., the Hyattes were captured at an America's Best Value Inn located in Columbus, Ohio. The couple was captured after a cab driver named Mike Wagers drove them from Erlanger, Kentucky, to the hotel. The Hyattes reportedly said that they were attending an Amway convention. Wagers later called the police and SWAT team from the Columbus Police captured them. It was reported that weapons were found in the hotel.
On September 17, 2007, Jennifer Hyatte pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections website, her TOMIS (Tennessee Offender Management Information System) number is 00394869, her imprisonment began on 10 August 2005 and she is incarcerated at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville.
As a condition of the plea bargain which allowed her to avoid the death penalty, she agreed to testify against George Hyatte. However her testimony was not required because subsequently, George Hyatte did not contest the charges made against him. On March 9, 2009, he pleaded guilty to all charges, including the first-degree murder of Officer Wayne "Cotton" Morgan. As a result, George Hyatte was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
- CNN.com . "Courthouse Shooting Leaves Officer Dead." CNN transcript, draft [?]. Tony Harris, host. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0508/09/lol.01.html, 9 Aug 2005. Accessed 30 May 2006.
- Dill, Amanda, Producer. "National memorial adds Tennessee officers killed in line of duty," AP, WBIR.com, http://www.wbir.com/news/archive.aspx?storyid=34291, 13 May 2006, 11:56:27 PM. Accessed 30 May 2006.
- Silence, Michael, "Breaking News: Courthouse Shooting," Knox News [online version of Knoxville News Sentinel] http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/silence/archives/2005/08/breaking_news_c.shtml, 9 Aug 2005, 11:35 AM. Accessed 30 May 2006.
- State of Tennessee, Department of Corrections. News Release. "Inmate Escapes From Roane County Courthouse, Correctional Officer Fatally Wounded," http://www.tennessee.gov/correction/newsreleases/2005news/hyatteescapes.html 9 Aug 2005. Accessed 30 May 2006.
- Fox News Capture Story
- CNN Capture Story
- MSNBC Coverage