Smoot pleads not guilty to Brooke Morris murder

The man accused of killing Brooke Morris last October pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges on Monday.

Shawn Smoot (Courtesy: Pearl River Co. Sheriff's Office)

KINGSTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The man accused of killing Brooke Morris last October pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges on Monday.

Shawn Smoot was not in the Roane Co. courtroom as a waiver of arraignment was filed and his plea was entered. The court also appointed Walter Johnson to defend him. Smoot is due back in court on Nov. 9.

Smoot was with the October 2011 murder of Brooke Morris. The 23 years old was found on the side of a Roane County road with two gunshot wounds to the head.

Morris had filed an order of protection against him in January of that year. According to the paperwork, she called Smoot, "Out of control and violent," and said he'd told her his wife had found out about their affair. She said, "Shawn told me he had been looking into if he killed me, he would plead temporary insanity because I broke up his marriage. Shawn said he would only get 5 or 6 years in prison."

Not long after the murder, TBI agents searched Smoot's west Knoxville condo. The search warrant laid out the basic facts of the case: Morris was found shot in the head around 8 o'clock on October 15th, with two 7.66mm rounds and shell casings near her body. It shows Smoot told authorities he'd picked Morris up on Cumberland Avenue that day around 1, and was with her until 6:30 or 7, when he dropped her off at her vehicle in the parking lot of Altruda's Restaurant in Knoxville. The warrant said he was the last known person to see her alive.

The search warrant also shows Smoot owned a .32 caliber gun, which uses the type of bullet found near Morris' body, and details several text messages he sent her on October 15th.

The TBI seized a box of the 7.66mm of bullets from Smoot's condo, along with a cell phone and a gunbox containing an instruction manuel for a .32 caliber gun.

After he was indicted last month, Smoot was supposed to turn himself in on Monday morning, but never showed up for court. Police conducted a multi-state manhunt to find him, eventually tracking him down in Mississippi and returning him to Tennessee.

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