65-year-old Clyde William Banner was sentenced to life in prison and a concurrent 60-year prison term Monday after his guilty plea to the shotgun slayings of sisters Amy B. and Donna K. Jones at the Lower Higgins Creek home of the victims’ mother, Teresa Jones.
Asked by Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice why he killed the women, Banner responded, “It did it to hurt Teresa.” Amy Jones was 29 and Donna Jones was 34.
Banner, who fled the home after the shootings, was arrested a few hours later at a store in nearby Madison County, N.C. The murder weapon was never recovered. Banner told Rice on Monday he threw the gun in a river.
Originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Banner pleaded guilty Monday to one count of first-degree murder, for which Rice sentenced him to life in prison, and one count of second-degree murder, for which he was sentenced to a concurrent 60-year sentence.
Rice ordered Banner to serve the 60-year sentence at 45 percent, or 27 years, before he is considered eligible for parole. The Tennessee Supreme Court defines life in prison as 51 years before eligibility for parole.
Asked by Rice if he understood he would likely spend the remainder of his life in prison, Banner said he did.
After his sentencing, Rice ordered Banner to be transported back to a Tennessee Department of Correction special needs facility in Nashville, where he has been under psychiatric care for most of his incarceration.
According to warrants filed by Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Ron Arnold, Banner borrowed the shotgun from a neighbor who was also Teresa Jones’ sister, saying he was going squirrel hunting the next morning.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said that on the morning of the shooting, Teresa Jones called her sister from work and asked her to go get the gun because Banner “wasn’t acting right.” The sister walked through the back door of the home into the kitchen and saw Banner standing in the living room with the gun raised.
Hensley said she saw Banner fire the weapon and ran out, but was never in position to see either of the sisters. Officers found both women in a sitting position on a couch with shotgun wounds to their heads.
According to investigators, after the shootings Banner exited the house and threatened neighbors with the gun, yelling, “I’ll kill everyone of you all,” before leaving in his pickup truck.
He was arrested without incident a few hours later at a Madison County convenience market where deputies had spotted his pickup.