Loudon jury to hear mutilation case Thursday

Hugh G. Willet, knoxnews.com

A Loudon County jury will hear opening arguments Thursday in the trial of a Kingsport man accused of shooting, stabbing and mutilating his female companion and dumping her body in a remote area in Loudon County. Gerald Davis Thomas, 55, is charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of Adwinna Pamela Hughes, 43, of Kingsport.

The indictment states that in mid-February 2004, Thomas intentionally and with premeditation kill Hughes. Judge E. Eugene Eblen told jurors during the selection process Wednesday that they should expect the trial to last several days. He also informed them that they will be sequestered. Thomas was arrested by federal agents in Roanoke, Va., in February 2004 and charged with various drug and weapons charges, just days after road maintenance workers found Hughes' body in a wooded area off Eblen Road near the border of Loudon and Roane counties.

Investigators from the Loudon County Sheriff's Office were able to connect Hughes, who had been reported missing on Feb. 9, 2004, with Thomas, authorities said. Representatives from several departments, including the Loudon and Blount sheriff's offices and the Kingsport and Roanoke, Va., police departments, participated in the investigation. "We think we have a pretty strong case," said Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider. Thomas is being represented by Assistant Public Defender Walter Johnson.