According to the District Attorney’s office, there are several big cases that will be heard this year in the Macon County court system that include crimes of murder, vehicular homicide, animal cruelty and attempted murder. Here is a court preview of what to expect in 2017.
A trial date has been set for January 24, 2017, for Penny Whitehouse, who stands accused of animal cruelty in 2015, after local authorities discovered ten horse carcasses and one dead donkey on the 20 plus acre, Taurus Farm Road property she formerly inhabited.
Macon County Animal Control Officer Corey Lawrence was contacted by a family that was walking the property in February of 2015, that was up for sale. While touring the grounds, the family reported that they discovered dead horses laying everywhere.
Lawrence found that there was no food or hay located on the property, and a UT Extension agent confirmed that the animals suffered from neglect and malnutrition.
“A warrant was issued for Ms. Whitehouse’s arrest for 11 counts of animal cruelty,” Sheriff Mark Gammons stated in 2015. “She turned herself in on Wednesday night, February 11, 2015.”
The sheriff stated that Whitehouse had also been charged with animal cruelty in Michigan and Indiana and was prohibited for owning animals in both states. “She presents herself as an animal rescue operator,” added Sheriff Gammons.
In the 2015 criminally negligent homicide case against Amy Aulick, of Lafayette, she is scheduled to appear in court on March 27, 2017.
Amy Aulick was arrested on October 21, 2016, after the Macon County Grand Jury indicted her on charges stemming from a 2015 two-vehicle wreck she was involved in, that resulted in the death of a man.
On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, Aulick was driving east on Highway 52 West in a 2005 Chevy Trailblazer when she attempted to illegally pass a Chevy Silverado hauling cattle and struck a 2000 Mercury Sable head on, near the Old Highway 52 intersection. Michael Eugene Scruggs, 36, of Westmoreland, was behind the wheel of the Sable.
Mr. Scruggs later died from his injuries at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.
Aulick was charged with criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
In the 2016 vehicular homicide by intoxication case against Michael Allen Bentley, of Westmoreland, he is scheduled to appear in court on January 23, 2017.
On Saturday night, May 28, 2016, Michael Bentley was driving a red 1975 Chevrolet pickup east on Green Valley Road around 11:40 p.m. when the passenger’s side tires traveled off the south side of the roadway. According to Trooper Donoho, of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Bentley overcorrected causing the vehicle to go into a yaw and it traveled off the north side of the road.
The vehicle struck a large tree on the passenger’s side, and came to rest in a creek bed at the bottom of a 25-foot-deep ravine.
Mr. Benjamin Dylan Harper, 25, of Lafayette, was a passenger in the truck and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bentley was charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication and failure to show proof of insurance.
In the 2015 murder case against James David Rentfro, of Hartsville, he is scheduled to appear in court on February 10, 2017, set or settle.
On Sunday morning, May 17, 2015, the Macon County Sheriffs Office received a call from a woman at 273 Beech Hill Lane, stating that her husband was acting strange and officers responded to the address.
Sheriff Mark Gammons and Detective Darrell Taylor also responded. While investigating, they found that James David Rentfro, 27, had came from the New Harmony Road residence of Mr. Sherman Brady. “He had went there and shot Mr. Brady numerous times,” Sheriff Gammons stated in 2015. “Brady was pronounced deceased at his home.”
The sheriff also stated that the weapon used in the shooting had been recovered and Rentfro had been charged with murder.
In the 2016 attempted murder case against William Jason Brawner, of Lafayette, he is scheduled to appear in court on February 6, 2017.
On Saturday, July 16, 2016, the Lafayette Police Department was called to 612 Days Road, where Krystal Dawn Brawner was reported to have been hit in the head with a tire iron by her husband, William Jason Brawner.
According to Officer Derrick Gann, who was the first responding officer, upon arrival he found Krystal Brawner covered in blood and asking for help “before her husband killed her”.
The officer opened the back door of his patrol car and advised Krystal and two of her children to get inside.
After back up arrived, the officers approached the residence and began to clear it. They found another child sleeping in a bedroom, who appeared to be unharmed. However, Mr. Brawner had already left the scene.
Officer Gann investigated the scene, took photos and retrieved the tire iron.
During this time, Willam Jason Brawner showed up at the Macon County Sheriffs Office and in a written statement he said that the couple had been arguing and while laying in bed, Krystal said something to him and he raised up and hit her in the face two or three times with his closed fist, then reached in the floor and picked up the tire iron and hit her in the face with it. Then he got up and left.
Mr. Brawner stated that he felt like Krystal “had this coming” and deserved it. He also stated that he had a history of meth use.
Brawner was charged with attempted first degree murder and aggravated domestic assault.
In the 2016 premeditated murder case against Stephen Earl Sullivan, of Hartsville, and Dylan C. Ferguson, of Bethage, they are scheduled to appear in court on February 10, 2017.
Sullivan and Ferguson are accused of killing Trousdale Countian Brandon Michael Fye, whose remains were found in a wooded area near Shrum Hollow Road in Macon County on Wednesday night, August 17, 2016.
TBI special agents began investigating the disappearance of Fye and they developed information which led them to the two suspects.
The indictments stated that Stephen Earl Sullivan and Dylan Ferguson did unlawfully and intentionally, and with premeditation kill Brandon Michael Fye.
They were both charged with first degree murder and first degree premeditated murder.