Family, Community React To Hyatte Sentence

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Roane County (WVLT) A woman charged with killing a state corrections officer in Roane County will now spend the rest of her life behind bars.

Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb was in the courtroom as Jennifer Hyatte accepted her plea deal.

Jennifer Hyatte sobbed through much of the victim's statements, as they questioned her if what she had done was worth it.

She continued to sob as she said no and apologized to the victims' families and her own.

With a somber look Hyatte entered the courtroom to accept her plea deal of life without parole.

Hyatte pleaded guilty to gunning down Wayne Cotton Morgan and attempting to kill Larry Harris while helping her husband George escape in August 2005 in a Roane County courthouse parking lot.

Dean Harris, the surviving victim's wife says, "today, two years, one month and a week later, I cannot get my mind around that. For 36 hours to be with George you murdered and attempted murder."

Morgan's son Dennis told Hyatte she has ruined her life and the family is now seeking closure.

"We've resigned ourselves to seek a little peace before our own short lives are over, but our consolation Jennifer is we will be together someday in heaven, what's your consolation?"

Then Jennifer Hyatte made a statement apologizing to the victims' families and her own.

"It will live in my heart and my soul, will burn for eternity to remind me every day of what I have done."

Some in the community thought the sentence just wasn't stiff enough.

Matthew McClure says, "I think she should get the death penalty. Like I said, she killed Cotton, so I think she deserves the same thing right back to her."

Melinda Pickard continues, "I think she should get the death penalty, but that's not for me to judge. That's for God to judge, but my opinion is she ought to get the death penalty."

The victim's widow did not testify.

Rather, the judge allowed her to have a ten minute private conversation behind closed doors with Hyatte.

Hyatte also agreed to testify against her husband George.


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