TV Murder Suspect Dies In Jail

John Lee Nevans, jailed in Tellico Village slaying, dies

By Matt Lakin
Prosecutors had said they might seek the death penalty for John Lee Nevans. His failing health saved them the trouble.

The man accused of gunning down his Tellico Village business partner as the victim sat cornered in a wheelchair will never go to trial.

Nevans, 67, of Dayton, Tenn., died of an apparent heart attack on the way to a hospital from his jail cell Thursday, Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider said. Doctors pronounced him dead at Fort Sanders Loudon Medical Center.

Nevans had a long history of medical problems that included heart disease, sleep apnea and diabetes, the sheriff said. He spent a little more than two months in jail, awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges in the Sept. 23 death of Ronald Kronholm, 79.

Authorities said Nevans shot Kronholm, who had a degenerative muscle disease, with a 12-gauge shotgun as Kronholm sat in a wheelchair at his home on Cheeskogili Way in Tellico Village. Nevans and Kronholm had built nearly 100 homes around the area over the past decade but broke up their partnership when the real estate market collapsed.

Nevans later accused Kronholm of cheating him out of about a third of a million dollars, according to court records. The men hadn't talked in more than a year before Kronholm's death. Jailers noticed Nevans, who wore a sleep-apnea mask, having trouble breathing about 6:10 a.m. Thursday, the sheriff said.

"He was breathing and alert when the ambulance left with him," Guider said.

Authorities will send the body for a routine autopsy.