ROGERSVILLE - An eyewitness testified Monday in Hawkins County Sessions Court that the two men accused in the March 24 stabbing death of Jeffery Allen McNally were attempting to steal 58 morphine pills and about $500 in cash from the victim.
The first-degree murder charges against William "Steve" Derrick, 35, 280 Dykes Road, Church Hill, and Larry Dale Dykes, 38, 1494 Christian Bend Road, Church Hill, were bound over to the Hawkins County grand jury Monday by Judge David Brand following a preliminary hearing.
The key witness for the prosecution was McNally's girlfriend, Cara Heck, who testified she lived with McNally and witnessed the altercation that led up to the fatal stabbing.
McNally, 47, was found deceased by Hawkins County Sheriff's Office deputies in his mobile home at 424 Carters Valley Road around midnight the night of March 24.
A short time later, a K-9 unit from the Rogersville Police Department led police to Dykes, who was hiding in another mobile home nearby. Derrick turned himself in the morning of March 26.
Heck testified Monday that she was asleep when she heard a commotion in the living room and got up to see what was happening. She said the kitchen and living room are in the same open area, and when she got up she saw Derrick beating McNally.
She testified that McNally grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter, and Derrick took the knife away from McNally.
She said that during this time Dykes wasn't fighting but was "telling Jeffery to give up his money and his pills."
Heck testified that she saw Derrick stab McNally and then Derrick "jerked the phone out of the wall."
"He (Derrick) told me I better not tell anybody," Heck testified.
She said Derrick then left.
Heck said she went into a back room and called McNally's brother and then called 911. She said Dykes left for a few minutes and then came back to check if McNally was still breathing. He wasn't.
"He (Dykes) got a cigarette, and he did check on him (McNally), and then he said I better not tell anyone," Heck testified.
The only other witness for the prosecution was HCSO Detective Lt. Alan Kidd, who presented the court with photos of the scene. The photos depicted blood around the body, as well as a drop of blood in the kitchen and drops of blood outside the McNally residence.
Kidd said he believes the blood in the kitchen and outside belonged to Derrick, who had sustained a cut to his hand. Kidd said the blood has been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab for analysis.
Kidd testified that more than $500 in cash was found in McNally's possession, and the bottle containing 58 pills believed to be morphine were found beside McNally's body. The pills were also sent to the TBI crime lab.
Kidd said the only items known to be taken from the McNally residence were the knife, which has not been recovered, and the telephone.
Defense attorney Mark Stapleton, who represents Derrick, asked Heck on cross-examination what McNally was doing with the pills. Heck said she did not know.
Stapleton also began laying the groundwork for a self-defense claim, asking Heck if McNally was the main aggressor and confirming Heck's earlier testimony that McNally had been the first one to pick up a knife.
Heck had initially testified that she got between McNally and Derrick and told them to stop fighting.
Stapleton asked Heck on cross-examination if she believed McNally would still be alive today if he'd listened to her and stopped fighting. Assistant Attorney General Alex Pearson objected to that question, and the judge said Heck didn't have to answer.
A preliminary hearing for Derrick's girlfriend, Tammy Michell Hyatt, 40, 1387 Clear Creek Circle, Kingsport, was held simultaneously with Derrick's and Dykes' hearing. She is charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and harboring a fugitive for allegedly driving Derrick the day after the stabbing.
Kidd testified that the morning after the stabbing he received a telephone tip that Derrick was with Hyatt. Hyatt was arrested in Kingsport that night and later gave a statement which Kidd read to the court.
Hyatt said in the statement she'd received a call from Derrick, who was upset and wanted her to come get him.
"Steve (Derrick) told me when I got there that ‘he was hurt, and hurt bad,'" Kidd read from Hyatt's statement. "I thought he was talking about Larry (Dykes). He said, ‘He's hurt bad, and I need to go somewhere.' I asked him who was hurt, and he said it's ‘Smack.'"
Hyatt admitted in her statement that she took Derrick to a friend's house. She said in the statement Derrick knew he had to turn himself in and needed a place to think and to call a bail bondsman.
Hyatt's charges were also bound over to the grand jury.
She and Derrick are free on bond, while Dykes remains lodged in the Hawkins County Jail on $250,000 bond.