JASPER, Tenn.—Criminal homicide charges against 26-year-old Jarrod Pickett were bound over to the Marion County grand jury on Friday.
Pickett is accused of the Feb. 7 slaying of 50-year-old Kenneth Hudson.
During the second day of a preliminary hearing, a 17-year-old girl, who said she was sitting between Pickett and Hudson when the fatal shot was fired, continued her testimony under cross-examination by public defender Phil Condra.
The girl has not been charged in the shooting.
Before General Sessions Judge Mark Raines, the girl testified that when she, Pickett and Hudson were at Hudson's home the morning of Feb. 7, prior to the deadly drive toward Nickajack Dam, the two men were talking about guns and showing weapons to each other.
She said Pickett showed Hudson his gun and commented that he had no bullets for it while Hudson showed his loaded revolver. Both men carried their guns when the trio left that morning in Hudson's pickup truck.
The teen also testified that Hudson propositioned her while the three were at his home.
Hudson "asked me if I would have sex with him for money," she said. She testified that Pickett told Hudson, "You're sick."
There was no further conversation about sex for money, according to testimony.
Condra then focused his questioning on the time the three were in the truck. The teen testified that Pickett wanted to go to his father's house and Hudson didn't make the turn he was supposed to make.
As an argument over their destination escalated, the men became angrier and Hudson continued toward Old Shellmound Road, she testified.
When Hudson suddenly stopped the truck, he reached into his left pocket for the gun and she turned toward Pickett as he reached across to prevent Hudson from drawing the weapon, she testified. A struggle for the gun ensued with her in the middle, she said.
She agreed with Condra's suggestion that she was afraid for her and Pickett's lives and that, if Pickett was shot, Hudson might "do what he wanted," according to testimony.
She testified that she was still turned away from Hudson when Pickett shot him. After the shot was fired, she said she turned to Pickett.
"When I looked over at him, I asked him if he was going to hurt me and he said, 'No,' and I don't believe that he would've," she testified, dissolving in tears.
She said she asked the question in the moments after the fatal shot because "I was scared. At first, I was kind of scared of him, too."
Pickett remains in custody on a $150,000 bond.
The reconvened hearing Friday was continued from Wednesday when the girl and Pickett's mother, Sherry Pickett, testified. Sherry Pickett, who testified that her son came to see her after Hudson was killed, has not been charged in the shooting.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...