There will be a pair of murder trials in early 2017 as trial dates were set Wednesday in the murders of Gail and Gary Dodson, as well as the shooting death of Oswaldo Luna.
Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley set aside four days for the trial of Bryan James Cooke. The jury trial is scheduled to run Feb. 2-7, with a break for the weekend.
The next month, six youths accused in the botched robbery attempt that led to the killing of Oswaldo Luna, 43, will be tried March 1-3.
Cooke is scheduled to be the first murder trial. He had local attorney Bud Sharp appointed to represent him on his charges of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, and grand theft.
He remains held under $2 million bond for the murders of well-known local business owners Gary and Gail Dodson. The couple was stabbed to death in their Fairview home in June and their son-in-law was the immediate suspect. Cooke was found hiding in a Jacksonville, Fla., motel. Investigators say he was not only driving a vehicle that belonged to the victims, but he also left his vehicle at the crime scene after slamming it into a garage moments before he broke into their home and murdered them.
Cooke fought extradition back to Tennessee for about a month before giving up his fight. His case underwent a long delay while a mental evaluation was conducted to ensure he was sane to stand trial and that he appreciated the wrongfulness of his acts. Examiners have cleared Cooke to face trial for the murders.
Lawmen say they have DNA evidence linking Cooke to the murder scene.
In the murder of Luna, the defendants include four teens, Charles Guess, Malik Scott, Melvin Horne and the alleged trigger man, Sam Brinkley. All were 17 at the time but have been transferred to adult court.
Two adults, Nicholas D. McGee, 20, and Tyler Allen Jones, 19, have also been indicted on the same charges, although McGee and Jones claim they did not realize there was going to be an armed heist the evening of the murder.
Brinkley has confessed to fatally shooting Luna in the victim’s small trailer that was located behind a business in Mt. Leo off Beersheba Street. He said he panicked when he burst into the victim’s door and started firing. Investigators found numerous spent shell casings from the SKS rifle Brinkley was carrying and suspect the teen shot Luna while he slept as he was found in the bed.
The youths told law officers they had hatched a plan to rob Luna of drugs earlier in the day at school.
The youths were officially assigned attorneys during their arraignment Wednesday. The public defender’s office of John Partin will represent Brinkley.
Guess will be represented by Daniel Barnes, Horne by Tammy Womack, Jones by Christina Stanford, McGee by Ryan J. Moore, and Scott by Bud Sharp. They all remain held under bond.
Scott will turn 18 in May and Guess in August so they are still being held in juvenile detention.