Leslie Ware Jr. consults with his attorney, Woody Smith. Nick Shepherd photo.
BLOUNTVILLE— A jury has found Leslie Ware Jr. not guilty on first-degree murder charges stemming from a 2005 double murder.
Ware was being tried in the deaths of Jefferin Nolan, 27, and Terrance Alexander, 21, both of whom were killed inside the former Sole candle shop.
He was the last of six co-defendants to be tried in the case.
The jury did find Ware guilty on a number of other charges including four counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of facilitation of conspiracy to commit theft, two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiring to possess 26 grams of cocaine, possessing more than a half gram of cocaine and maintaining a dwelling where drugs were used or sold.
Ware represents the ending to a case that has taken eight years to resolve. Ware’s case in particular has taken a long time to be completed.
"We are extremely disappointed by the verdict," said District Attorney General Barry Staubus. "On the other hand, this is why we have juries. I don't have to agree with it, but the jury has spoken."
This is Ware’s second trial. His first trial ended in a mistrial when he allegedly conspired to trick his attorney, Steve Finney, into bringing him drugs in jail.
Before Finney, Ware had allegedly conspired to have his former attorneys, Jim Bowman and Stacey Street, bring buprenorphine into the jail on a separate occasion.
Another attorney, Bob Jessee, was appointed to represent Ware, but withdrew from the case after Ware filed a complaint last year with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility seeking his removal. Defense attorney Woody Smith of Greeneville was appointed to represent Ware in August of last year.
Smith was ecstatic with the jury’s decision.
“We worked really hard for a long time,” Smith said. “We fought as hard as we could fight, and in this case it paid off.”
If convicted of the original charges, Ware would have faced life in prison. After the jury’s verdict, Ware could face one to two years for each negligent homicide charge.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 14.