Presnell pleads guilty in tanning salon vandalism, truck theft

John Thompson • Sep 20, 2018 at 10:13 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A man who was accused of running a stolen vehicle into the front of a tanning salon, then stealing and crashing a truck that belonged the officer investigating the tanning salon incident, has pleaded guilty.

Phillip Steven Presnell Jr., 35, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Presnell pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Carter County Criminal Court to one count of vandalism over $10,000; one count of theft over $10,000; one count of theft over $1,000; driving on a suspended license and driving without a license.

All of the charges date to May 28. The incident began shortly after 8 a.m. when Elizabethton Police officers were called to Caribbean Sun Tanning at 127 Hudson Drive on a breaking and entering that had just occurred.

Witnesses told police a man had walked up to the front door of the business and found it was still locked and the business was closed. The witnesses said the man returned to a blue Chevrolet S-10 and drove recklessly in circles. The witnesses said the man then backed the truck up over the sidewalk and into the front of the business.

The truck was found to be registered to a Johnson City man. The Johnson City Police Department went to the truck owner’s address and found a man who matched the description of witnesses but the truck was not at the residence.

The owner was transported by Johnson City police to the Carter County line, where he was transferred to Cpl. Joe Holsclaw. The man was transported to Caribbean Sun to continue the investigation and his Miranda rights were read to him.

While he was at the scene, Deputy Amos Halava of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department reported that a 2018 Dodge Ram owned by Holsclaw was involved in an accident in the county. Halava said the operator was Presnell and he had been injured when the truck ran off the road, hit a tree and went down a 20-foot embankment.

Holsclaw went to his residence, where he found the wrecked Chevy S-10 that his department had been searching for. The S-10 was in the place where he had parked his Dodge Ram. In addition to the having his truck stolen, Holsclaw said he had power tools in the truck valued at $1,200.

Presnell was sentenced as a multiple offender, so he must serve 35 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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