Judge releases name of 14-year-old accused of killing Happy Valley student

John Thompson • Dec 19, 2012 at 8:31 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Juvenile Court released the identity Wednesday of the 14-year-old boy who has been charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in a weekend stabbing incident.

The 14-year-old was identified as Nicholas Willen. In addition to releasing the name of the defendant, the court also released documents which shed light on what investigators from the Carter County Sheriff’s Department have reported about the incident at 3 a.m. Sunday at 212 Cash Hollow Road.

The court had kept the identity of Willen and the other individuals involved in the fatal stabbing confidential since Sunday. The court released the records following a request by the Johnson City Press. The request was based on state law, which specifies that records shall be open to the public when they involve juveniles who are 14 years or older charged with crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping or aggravated robbery.

The released court documents indicate that deputies responded at 2:55 a.m. Sunday to a reported stabbing at 212 Cash Hollow Road. When officers arrived, the found two teenage boys who had been stabbed.

The deputies said Elijah “EJ” McKinney was discovered to have a stab wound which reportedly penetrated his heart. The second victim, whose identity remains protected, had several stab wounds which required immediate surgery, and was listed in critical condition.

Deputies were told by witnesses that the two had been involved in a physical altercation with Willen and another boy. After the stabbing, Willen and the other boy fled on foot before officers arrived.

The sheriff’s department searched the area Sunday morning. Sheriff Chris Mathes and Lt. Mike Little located Willen and the other boy inside an apartment on the Milligan Highway. The new document said both were covered in blood and had numerous scratches and cuts on their bodies.

Mathes had previously said many of those cuts could have come from running through fields and being cut by briars and fences.

Upon interviewing the boys at the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, Investigator Jan Black reported both admitted to being at the Cash Hollow residence and said they had been involved with a physical altercation with McKinney and the other injured boy. Willen admitted to stabbing both boys, saying that upon being confronted by them, he stabbed the first boy in the torso.

The first boy fled after being stabbed and Willen said he saw Elijah McKinney engaged in a fight with his partner. Willen approached McKinney and stabbed him as well. Willen and his partner said they then fled the scene.

After leaving the scene, Willen said he gave his knife to the boy who was with him. The boy also admitted to investigators that he had taken the knife and it was in his possession for the remainder of the time.

After taking Willen and the other boy into custody, Lt. Little located a knife on a bathroom counter inside the apartment. The knife was identified by both witnesses to the fight as well as by Willen and his partner as being the knife used to stab McKinney and the other victim. An examination of the knife indicated it had been cleaned so as to remove any trace of blood or other evidence on the blade.

Following the interviews, Willen was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. The other boy was charged with tampering with evidence.

The investigation is continuing and District Attorney General Tony Clark said while the investigation is ongoing there will not be any decisions made on whether to try the 14-year-old as an adult.

“There have been no discussions,” Clark said. “This is still an ongoing investigation and we won’t make a decision until it is done.”

Willen is being held in the Regional Juvenile Detention Center. The other boy was remanded to the custody of his family following his arraignment in Juvenile Court on Monday.

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