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Hawkins inmate indicted for felony assault in attack that paralyzed fellow inmate

Jeff Bobo • Aug 29, 2018 at 8:30 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Hawkins County Jail inmate accused of breaking a fellow prisoner’s neck and causing permanent paralysis during an attack on June 2 has been charged with Class C felony aggravated assault.

If found guilty, Charles Cleeves Commerford, 32, 201 Poor Valley Road, Rogersville, faces a possible sentence of three to six years.

Commerford was named in an Aug. 20 Hawkins County grand jury sealed indictment. He was also among four inmates named in sealed indictments in a separate assault on an inmate that took place May 3.

On May 3, Commerford and his three co-defendants allegedly beat Joseph Jones so badly he had to be flown to a hospital by a rescue helicopter after he defended a new inmate the other four were reportedly bullying.

The June 2 attack on Scott Stanley

Commerford is accused of punching Scott Mitchell Stanley, 45, Rogersville, shortly after Stanley was arrested, booked into the Hawkins County Jail for felony possession of marijuana, and placed in the same cellblock as Commerford.

Upon being punched, Stanley reportedly fell backward and hit his head on a cell door, which resulted in the broken neck injury.

What the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office didn’t find out until after the attack was that Stanley had dated Commerford’s sister, and there was bad blood between the two men.

HCSO Deputy Corey Young, who oversees criminal investigations inside the jail, told the Times News that if jail officers had known about their history, Stanley would have been housed in a different area.

Following the attack, Hawkins County EMS responded to the jail and transported Stanley to the Hawkins County Memorial Hospital emergency room. Stanley was subsequently transferred to another hospital, where he reportedly underwent spinal surgery.

Young said the last report he received was that Stanley remains paralyzed.

Stanley had been arrested hours before the attack, accused of attempting to steal “a couple of ounces” of marijuana from an accused dealer who delivered him the drugs.

Commerford, who has a lengthy criminal record, had been sentenced in April to serve two consecutive nine month sentences for two previous jail assaults.

Commerford’s bond was set at $30,000 on this new charge, although he is still serving time on the previous assault charges. He will be arraigned Friday in Criminal Court.

The May 3 attack on Joseph Jones

Commerford was among four inmates indicted Aug. 20 on one count each of misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking Joseph Jones on May 3.

The others include: David Aaron Greenlee, 22, of Gatlinburg; Coty Ellis Rines, 28, 564 Mountain View School Road, Rogersville; and Chad Edward Spears, 35, 1015 Overhill Road, Rogersville.

Young told the Times News Tuesday that those four were bullying a new inmate when Jones intervened on the new inmate’s behalf.

The four suspected inmates then allegedly punched and kicked Jones, causing injuries which led EMS to believe Jones might have suffered a brain injury.

Jones was flown via Wings Air Rescue to an unspecified hospital for treatment.

It was later determined that Jones didn’t suffer brain damage, and as a result, the grand jury indicted the four on the misdemeanor assault charge.

All four received a $5,000 bond on this charge and will be arraigned Friday in Criminal Court.

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