Arson case evidence to be allowed in Carter attempted murder case

Becky Campbell • Jul 3, 2012 at 9:56 PM

A judge ruled Tuesday that evidence from an arson case against a Carter County man can be used in an attempted murder case, crimes that occurred the same day in 2005.

Billy Jack Lyons, 45, has been jailed since his arrest after the May 2005 burning his neighbor’s barn and later the same day stabbing the man.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood scheduled a hearing in Jonesborough to hear a motion to sever the cases and after testimony from the investigating officer, ruled the charged will be tried together.

Former Carter County sheriff’s Detective Todd Hamm, now a state wildlife officer, testified that Lyons’ told him he set Robert Emerson’s barn on fire around 5:30 a.m. May 18, 2005 in an attempt to get the man to move out of the house across the street at 176 Livingston Hollow Road.

The fire destroyed a tractor and killed several animals, including three horses and a mule.

When Lyons saw Emerson and some friends surveying the damage later in the day, he didn’t think Emerson looked upset enough to move, according to Hamm’s testimony about Lyons’ statement.

That’s when Lyons is accused of using a steak knife to stab Emerson in the chest.

Hamm testified that Lyons claimed he would wake up in the mornings and be sore so he thought Emerson was coming over during the night and beating him up.

Lyons has had several mental evaluations to determine his ability to stand trial, but at this point has been found competent.

Blackwood ruled Tuesday that evidence from the arson case is admissible in the attempted murder case so he denied a motion to sever the charges.

Blackwood set a trial in the case for Sept. 12 and 13 in Carter County.

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