- A Lenoir City man who admitted shooting and killing his
girlfriend during an argument last year will receive five years'
probation for the crime.
Harvey, 26, was arrested in February 2008 and charged with
second-degree murder in the death of Savannah Cathy McMahan, 21.
Prosecutors said they reduced the charge to
reckless homicide and agreed to supervised probation after
reviewing the evidence in the case.
"It was a compromise," said Assistant District
Attorney Bill Reedy. "We had to get realistic on what we could
Physical evidence included ballistics
testimony on how the shooting occurred.
claimed the shooting was an accident," Reedy said. "Our
ballistics expert could not refute their expert."
Harvey admits he was arguing with McMahan. He
claimed, however, he picked up the .22-caliber revolver from the
table as if he was going to shoot himself when it went off
Charles Cosner, a detective for the Loudon
County Sheriff's Office, said his interpretation of the
ballistics evidence indicated the shooting was no accident.
"It didn't happen the way he said it
happened," Cosner said.
Powder burns on the victim showed the gunshot
was fired at close range, he said. Moreover, the revolver was a
"single action" type that had to be deliberately cocked before
it could be fired, Cosner said.
Possibly the most important factor in the
decision not to try the case was the "dying declaration," of
McMahan herself, Reedy said.
A third person in the home at the time of the
shooting, Nathaniel Lane, originally told investigating officers
he was asleep and heard neither the argument nor the gunshot.
Lane later recalled much more about the
incident and was prepared to testify the victim was declaring
her love for Harvey even as she lay bleeding on the floor, Reedy
"He says she was saying she was sorry, that
she knew it was an accident," Reedy said.
The decision to reduce the charges was made
after several meetings with the victim's parents, Reedy said.
"They did not feel particularly good about the
boyfriend, but after we went through the trial process with them
they agreed to the proposed sentence," he said.
Law enforcement did not feel good about the
"We thought we had enough to charge him with
second-degree murder," said Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider.