Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hardeman County, Tennessee

From the Jackson Sun of December 29, 2005
Officials probe death of burglary suspect

A Hardeman County shooting that left a suspected burglar dead on the morning of Christmas Eve is still under investigation, according to Hardeman County Sheriff Delphus Hicks.

Ricky Cossar, 42, of Hardeman County, allegedly broke into a home in the 200 block of Brint Chapel Road, near Middleton, through the front door. After Cossar entered the house, he was shot by the homeowner, Gene Doles, 36, according to the Sheriff's Department. Doles' wife also was at home at the time of the shooting.

Hicks said that Doles is not in custody and that after the investigation is completed, it will be up to the district attorney general to decide whether charges should be filed.

The sheriff's office received a call about the shooting around 2 a.m. Christmas Eve, and deputies arrived on the scene shortly after. Cossar was rushed to Bolivar General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
UPDATE: This is a little less clear-cut of a case than the first press accounts suggests. From the January 11, 2006 Jackson Sun:
A fatal shooting case involving a Hardeman County woman was bound over to grand jury Tuesday, according to Sheriff Delphus Hicks.

Rebecca Doles, of Hardeman County, is facing a felony charge of tampering with or fabricating evidence concerning the shooting death of Ricky Cossar, 42, of Hardeman County. Doles remains in Hardeman County Jail on a $20,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 7.


Hicks would not elaborate on how Rebecca Doles allegedly tampered with evidence or on the type of gun that Gene Doles used. He did say, however, that Gene Doles has not been charged with anything and that after his department's investigation, it will be up to the district attorney general to decide whether charges should be filed against him.
Charges were dropped according to this February 9, 2006 Jackson Sun article:
A Hardeman County woman accused of tampering with evidence in a man's shooting death has been released from jail after charges against her were dropped Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Joe Van Dyke told those present in Hardeman County General Sessions Court on Tuesday that the state did not have enough proof to go ahead with the charges against Rebecca Doles, according to her attorney, Steve Farese Jr., of Mississippi.

"At that time I made a motion for charges to be dismissed due to failure to prosecute," Farese said in a phone interview Wednesday.
"The judge granted the motion."

But Farese said it is possible that the district attorney's office could choose to re-file charges against Doles by presenting the case to the grand jury at a later date.
A private investigator who is familiar with the facts and some of the participants in this case tells me that this case may not be as clean as first appeared.

From a Report from the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Office, created by Chief Investigator Trent Wilhelm, dated August 28, 2006
This report concludes with:

Initial survey of the scene revealed an SKS rifle leaning against a table in the kitchen just outside the master bedroom door. One SKS shell casing On the floor near the butt of the rifle and one SKS shell casing on the floor just inside the main bedroom, A search of the scene revealed a live SKS round on the floor slightly under the chair just inside the main bedroom and another SKS shell casing in the bedroom at the other end of the trailer near the front door. The autopsy report revealed that Ricky had in fact been shot three times instead of two, and subsequent interviews of Rebecca and Gene revealed that they had tampered with evidence by moving the rifle and two shell casings to the master bedroom from the bedroom at the other end of the trailer where Gene had actually fired the rifle. These findings led Special Agent Steve Stanley with West TN Violent Crimes & drug Task Force to determine whether he could reach the inside knob of the front door from the window above and he found that he could not. Ricky was not as tall as Agent Stanley and had shorter arms. This finding has led me to believe, in my professional opinion, that Ricky did not break into the home of Rebecca and Gene and that the homicide may not have been in self-defense. The case is still under investigation.

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