Police say Hawkins County teen accused of murdering grandparents commits suicide

Jeff Bobo • Feb 27, 2011 at 11:13 AM

KNOXVILLE — A Hawkins County teen accused of murdering his grandparents nearly a year ago apparently committed suicide in his jail cell in a Knox County juvenile detention facility around 11:40 p.m. Saturday.

Brandon Charles Fannin, 17, formerly of 3210 Stanley Valley Road, Surgoinsville, was indicted by the Hawkins County grand jury in December on two counts of first-degree murder in the April 15, 2010, deaths of his grandparents.

He had been housed in Knoxville since November after he reportedly told a Hawkins County jailer he wanted to harm himself.

According to a report filed by Knox County Sheriff’s Office Detective Walt Schmidt, jail officer Jimmy Randolph was doing a cell check around 11:40 p.m. Saturday when he found Fannin had hanged himself in his cell with a bed sheet.

Randolph told investigators he was assisted by Sgt. Samantha Worley in getting Fannin down and immediate attempts to revive Fannin conducted by both officers were unsuccessful.

Fannin was then taken to the Regional Forensic Center for an autopsy.

Jail officers reportedly told Schmidt that Fannin hadn’t made any statements to them or indicated to them in any way he intended to do harm to himself.

Schmidt added, however, that investigators found a note in Fannin’s cell “indicating the victim’s intention.”

There were no signs of foul play, Schmidt stated in his report. Schmidt added that the investigation revealed that Fannin died of an apparent suicide.

Fannin was accused in the deaths of his grandparents, Clyde Fannin, 64, and Linda Fannin, 54, at their home on Stanley Valley Road. According to juvenile court records, Clyde Fannin became Brandon Fannin’s legal guardian on Aug. 15, 2007.

Not much information about Brandon Fannin’s life before that time has been made public, although he was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.

Police said Clyde Fannin, a retired police officer from Newport News, Va., was shot at least 20 times in the head. Brandon Fannin reportedly told police he shot his grandfather while he lay sleeping on the couch.

When Linda Fannin came home from work that day, Brandon Fannin allegedly slit her throat and stabbed her at least 17 times.

After the murders, Brandon Fannin admittedly watched porn and played video games and then left in the family van with $500 he took from the home. Members of the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office were waiting at the home when he returned two days later.

Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said his department received notice of Brandon Fannin’s death around 2:45 a.m. and he notified Attorney General Berkeley Bell on Sunday morning.

No definite trial date for Fannin had been set, and in fact, a Feb. 18 pretrial appearance in Hawkins County Criminal Court was postponed because a new defense attorney was going to be appointed by Judge John Dugger.

Fannin was ordered to be tried as an adult following a hearing in Hawkins County Juvenile Court on Aug. 10, 2010.

In November, he was transferred from the Hawkins County Jail — where he’d been held since being transferred to adult court — to the custody of the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center in Knox County after he made comments about harming himself.

“He had attempted a couple of times to scratch his wrists with plastic knives in our jail, but he wasn’t seriously injured,” Lawson said. “That’s why we had him moved to a juvenile facility in Knoxville. Their facility was better suited for watching juveniles. We had to segregate him from adult inmates, and we’re just not set up to house juveniles in our facility.

“If an adult threatens suicide, we put them on suicide watch and we can watch them on camera, but with Mr. Fannin, we had to house him in a whole cell block by himself, which put us at a real disadvantage trying to keep an eye on him 24 hours a day.”

On Jan. 1, Fannin tried to escape from the Bean juvenile center by choking a guard and threatening to kill him if others didn’t open the doors. The attempt was caught on facility surveillance video.

Richard Bean, who is superintendent of the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center, said Sunday he had Fannin transferred to a juvenile facility in the Knox County Jail shortly after his escape attempt.

Bean noted that Fannin hadn’t threatened to harm himself prior to his transfer to the Knox County Jail juvenile facility.

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