Jawaune Massey, 36, was sentenced in Sullivan County Circuit Court by Judge Jerry Beck. On Aug. 24 a jury convicted Massey of premeditated murder, felony first-degree murder and robbery, along with drug charges for his involvement in a cocaine distribution ring. His sentence on the robbery and drug convictions will run concurrent with that of the killings.
On Nov. 18, 2005, Jeffrin Nolan, 27, and Terrance Alexander, 21, were each shot in the back of the head at Solé candle shop, 828 Myrtle St. in Kingsport. Massey and co-defendant Leslie Ware reportedly made the men lie face down on the floor of a back room when the fatal shots were fired.
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus and Assistant D.A. Gene Perrin contend Nolan was a drug dealer, selling narcotics cheaper than the ring involving Massey and Ware.
“There’s no question (Massey) went in there with the intent to kill,” said Judge Beck near the conclusion of sentencing, adding Massey was “knocking off the competition.”
In an attempt to present mitigating factors for consideration in a sentence, defense attorney Douglas Payne called two witnesses.
Daniel James Reschly, a professor of education and psychology at Vanderbilt University, testified that Massey has exhibited signs of intellectual disabilities since childhood. He painted Massey as a gullible man easily exploited by others, who doesn’t understand the consequences of his actions. Reschly also said Massey has deficiencies in grasping the handling of money.
When asked by Assistant District Attorney Perrin if Massey’s admitted habitual drug use could contribute to his alleged intellectual deficiencies, Reschly said he’s not an expert on the effects of narcotics and was not qualified to answer.
Perrin also noted Massey is convicted of felony drug distribution, a trade which revolves around the transfer of cash.
A defense mitigation specialist from Knoxville, Tenn., was also called to the stand. He relayed to the court his interviews with Massey’s friends and family in Baltimore and New York, where Massey was abused as a child, abandoned by his mother and had no strong male role models.
Despite those issues, according to the defense witness, the individuals interviewed presented Massey as positively involved in his communities and a primary caregiver for some of his 12 children.
Ultimately, the approximately three hours of testimony from defense witnesses proved unsuccessful in having the murder convictions served concurrently. Judge Beck’s decision effectively amounts to a pair of consecutive life sentences, with Massey eligible for parole in 51 years.
At the conclusion of sentencing defense attorney Payne requested a motion for a new trial. A hearing on that motion was tentatively set for March 8.
Meanwhile, Massey’s co-defendant, Ware, has had his trial delayed multiple times due to changes of counsel. That trial is now set to begin early next year.