|Double homicide case against former reserve officer
heads to grand jury
knoxnews.com-Loudon County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Patrick Upton still isn’t sure why mere words led to the deaths of two women allegedly at the hands of a one-time reserve officer.
“It was just talk,” Upton testified Thursday in Loudon County General Sessions Court. “There was some Facebook stuff and text messages. To this day, we don’t know. It was just talk.”
Colby Shane Cannon, 28, who once served as a volunteer reserve officer for the Loudon Police Department and a correctional officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, admitted fatally shooting his girlfriend, Bethany Christian McKenzie, 28, and his sister, Taylor Brooke Cannon Creamer, 24, outside his home on White Wing Road in June.
He called 911 himself.
“I just shot my sister,” he told a dispatcher. “They was kind of fighting and all of that.”
The question Thursday for Loudon County General Sessions Court Judge Rex A. Dale at a preliminary hearing in the case was whether there was enough probable cause – a low evidentiary standard – to send first-degree murder charges against Cannon to a grand jury for review.
Defense attorney Robert Kurtz argued there was no proof Cannon meant to kill either woman and, in fact, the 911 call was proof he didn’t.
“The only proof in the record as to what happened was Ms. McKenzie was shot and Mr. Cannon’s own words were he did not intend to shoot her,” Kurtz said. “He told 911 what happened. He said he shot them (and) ‘I didn’t mean to.’ There’s no proof of premeditation.”
Assistant District Attorneys General Bob Edwards and Lauren Bennett disagreed.
Edwards noted Cannon’s own stepson, who was 8 at the time, saw Cannon walk into his trailer – leaving the two women outside – opened his gun safe and took out a 9 mm handgun, which he then carried outside and opened fire.
“This defendant retrieves the weapon from the safe and executes these women,” Edwards said.
What about the gun safe?
Upton testified Cannon didn’t tell him about that trip to the gun safe.
“Mr. Cannon advised he had the gun on him,” Upton testified. “(The boy) advised Mr. Cannon came back in the house, went to the safe, got the gun and then came back out. That’s when he heard the shots.”
McKenzie was shot in the back of the neck and in the side. She died at the scene outside the trailer. Detective Sgt. Charlie Cosner testified Creamer was facing Cannon when shot twice in the upper chest area. She died later at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
Dale sided with the state, sending both counts of first-degree murder to a grand jury for review. But he was troubled by a second set of charges alleging aggravated child abuse and neglect because Cannon’s stepson and two younger children he had with McKenzie – a toddler and a preschooler – were present.
“Whether the children were inside or out (during the shooting) wasn’t testified to,” Dale said.
The children could be heard crying on the 911 call, and Upton said they were “absolutely” traumatized when he encountered them shortly after the shooting.
Dale opted to send the child abuse charges to the grand jury, too, noting the open gun safe, which contained loaded weapons” was “a situation which is imminently dangerous to the children.”
Upton testified Cannon’s mother stirred up the fatal fuss, though he doesn’t know exactly what her beef with McKenzie and Creamer involved.
“It was something his mom told him,” Upton said.
Cannon and McKenzie first began arguing as they were traveling toward their home with the three children. At some point, Upton said, McKenzie got out of the vehicle , and Cannon went home with the children. McKenzie contacted Creamer, and the two then went to the trailer McKenzie shared with Cannon and the children.
“He advised the argument started up again at the house about who was lying,” Upton said. “I believe his mom was involved in that, too.”
Cannon told Upton that his sister, Creamer, hit him in the head with her hand and was advancing on him for a second blow when he opened fire.
“He did advise he didn’t mean to kill (McKenzie),” Upton said. “I don’t think he even knew how many times he shot.”
The case now goes to a Loudon County grand jury, where the state will seek an indictment, the next move in the prosecution process. Cannon remains jailed.