ROGERSVILLE — A preliminary hearing for a Hawkins County couple accused of abusing and neglecting a paralyzed woman in their care was rescheduled Wednesday to give a newly appointed defense attorney time to prepare for the case.

Johnny Walters, 34, and his girlfriend, Casey Marie Kuhlman, 25, both of 4031 Goshen Valley Road near Rogersville, appeared before substitute Sessions Judge Chris Raines on Wednesday on one count each of domestic assault and physical abuse or gross negligence.

Physical abuse or gross negligence is a Class C felony related to the state’s elder abuse statute and carries a penalty of three to six years in prison.

Both have been in jail more than a month, but neither had been appointed an attorney as of Wednesday’s court appearance.

Raines appointed Morristown-based attorney Crystal Goan to represent Walters and appointed the public defender’s office to defend Kuhlman.

Goan was not in attendance for court Wednesday, and Raines reset the couple’s preliminary hearing for Oct. 24.

Kuhlman told the judge she’d been told by the arresting detective that her case would be resolved Wednesday.

“I’m sorry, but he’s not in charge of this court,” Raines replied.

On Aug. 13, Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Detective John Parsons responded to Hawkins County Memorial Hospital, where he met 46-year-old Jacqueline Albright, who was being treated for multiple bruises, scratches and infections.

A Tennessee Department of Human Services caseworker had made a surprise visit to her residence that day and called an ambulance after fresh injuries were observed.

Albright has been the subject of an abuse investigation initiated around Aug. 1 by the TDHS, but each time she was questioned Albright denied any assault.

Albright suffered a stroke when she was 26 years old and is paralyzed from the waist down. She also has limited mobility of her arms.

Since suffering her stroke, Albright has been cared for by Janet Walters at 4031 Goshen Valley Road near Rogersville.

Earlier this year, Walters became too ill to care for herself or Albright, at which time Walters’ son and girlfriend — Johnny Walters and Kuhlman — moved in.

Johnny Walters and Kuhlman allegedly said Albright “falls a lot,” but investigators said health professionals indicated the injuries are not consistent with their story.

Albright suffered multiple broken ribs, bruises and scratches all over her body, and a large bruise on her left temple.

There were scratches to her nose, forehead and neck, as well as both arms, both legs, her stomach, and all over her back. There was also what appeared to be a handprint on Albright’s left rib cage and back area.

Both of Albright’s ears were infected due to lack of cleaning.

When asked by Parsons what happened, Albright initially responded “no comment.”

Parsons then stated she needed to tell him who hurt her so he could protect her.

Albright then allegedly stated she was told to say “no” by Casey and Johnny when asked if anyone hurt her.

Albright also allegedly stated, ‘Casey pushed me. Casey smacked me. Johnny pushed me. Johnny smacked me.’”

The couple remained held in the Hawkins County jail Tuesday on $10,000 bond each.

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