JCP Week in Review, January 5

Jared Bentley • Jan 5, 2018 at 2:45 PM

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to 2018!

The year has kicked off with plenty to talk about on the national stage, as Donald Trump has taken to twitter to react to or create kerfuffles with North Korea and their “Rocket Man”, the “terrorist-friendly” Pakistan, former associate “Sloppy” Steve Bannon, and Michael Wolff, author of a new book that offers a lot of painful inside details from the first year of the Trump regime.


Trump and the White House have denied any allegations from the book, “Fire and Fury,” calling Wolff a liar and branding it nothing more than “tabloid gossip.” The book is a hot item for sellers, and lawsuits have been threatened.

Trump also this week declared his tough stance against North Korea and its dictator Kim Jon Un to be the deciding factor in North and South Korea deciding to engage in peace talks for the first time in years. Trump assailed the media experts who called his twitter antics childish and unwarranted, and claimed that if he had not been “firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North,” the talks would not be taking place.

The “firm stance” he tweeted about occurred earlier in the week, when he first tweeted that his nuclear button “is a much bigger & more powerful one than his (referring to Kim Jong Un),” and saying that his “Button works!”

The commission on voter fraud has been disbanded, the Mueller investigation continues, and the stock market hit a record high of 25,000 this week. There’s plenty to write about, and plenty to read about, and you can find the facts and the truth in the pages of the Johnson City Press.

The Washington County Board of Education’s over-budget proposal to “tear down the round” portion of Jonesborough Elementary School fell apart when it reached the County’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee.

The committee unanimously voted Thursday afternoon to deny “Scheme 2,” a $23.21 million proposal to replace the highly debated circular school facility with a mostly-new K-8 elementary school. That scheme, approximately $6 million over budget, would have also indefinitely delayed the creation of a proposed magnet school. Another option that had been proposed, raising property taxes by 8 cents to make up the shortfall and keep the project on time, was quickly shot down as well.

The school board was scheduled to meet again last night, where discussion on the Jonesborough school was to continue.

A Fall Branch man charged in a triple homicide that left a couple and their unborn child dead in their home last month was scheduled for arraignment Wednesday, but the appearance was postponed until Thursday after he was hospitalized Tuesday night because of an apparent attempted suicide.

Derrick Benjamin Sells is accused of killing Robert Aaron ‘Rac” Vaughn and his wife Kyanna Howes Vaughn on Dec. 3 inside their Friendship Court mobile home in Boones Creek.

After initial investigation, officers soon began surveillance on Sells, and he was arrested by Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office deputies Dec. 12 on an outstanding violation of probation warrant in Sullivan County, but he got new charges because he had a loaded weapon in the car.

In addition to the weapon, Sells reportedly also had clothing items that belonged to Robert Vaughn in his vehicle.

The couple had married in July and were expecting their first child together, but Vaughn’s other two children, ages 6 and 3, were left at the residence unharmed and alone after the shootings, resulting in child neglect charges, in addition to three murder charges for the deaths of the Vaughns and their unborn child.

Their bodies were found by a friend who went to check on them after being unable to reach the couple by phone, finding the two shot to death in a bedroom. Kyanna Vaughn was six to seven months pregnant at the time of her death, and that fact, in addition to the two children being left at the crime scene and the apparent suicide attempt of the accused, has created an immense amount of interest in the case, both from the community and the media.

Sells was supposed to be in court Wednesday for arraignment, but was hospitalized after he was discovered Tuesday night lying on his cell floor and bleeding from the neck. Officials said Sells cut himself with something and that the injury was “serious, but not life threatening.” As a result of the added attention, Sells’ court-appointed public defender, Bill Francisco, has requested a gag order for the remainder of the trial, asking for a “motion to restrict publicity in this matter.”

Sells remains jailed on a $1 million bond. He has a hearing scheduled Tuesday on his attorney’s motion for a gag order.

Although it’s been bitterly cold here in East Tennessee, we’ve been lucky so far, basically missing all of the heavy snow and blizzard effects of Winter Storm Grayson. I’d like to remind everyone to wrap up and stay warm, make sure your water lines are kept free and running, and make sure your pets come in for the night. It could be the difference between life and death.

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