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Arraignment in triple murder set for Jan. 3 in Jonesborough

Johnson City Press • Updated Dec 19, 2017 at 1:38 PM

A Fall Branch man charged with three counts of murder for the shooting deaths of a man and his pregnant wife will be arraigned in Washington County Criminal Court Jan. 3.

Assistant District Attorney Erin McArdle confirmed the hearing date Tuesday for 33-year-old Derrick Benjamin Sells. He was indicted Monday by a specially called grand jury on three counts of felony murder, three counts of premeditated murder, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, especially aggravated robbery and aggravated child neglect.

The murders happened Dec. 3 at Robert Aaron and Kyanna Howes Vaughn’s 616 Friendship Court mobile home, where they were shot to death. Their bodies were found around 7 p.m. Dec. 4 by a friend who couldn’t reach them by phone and went to check on them. Two children, ages 6 and 3, were found inside the residence unharmed, but investigators believe the older child may have seen the couple get shot.

Investigators developed Sells as a suspect after obtaining cellphone records and learning Sells and Aaron Vaughn had talked on the phone Dec. 3. Sells was arrested by Sullivan County sheriff’s deputies Dec. 12 after they assisted Washington County and TBI with surveillance of the residence. Sells was initially arrested on an outstanding violation of probation warrant in Sullivan County, but got new charges because he had a loaded weapon in the car.

Sells remained jailed on a $1 million bond at the Washington County Detention Center.

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