published Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Fourth suspect in killing awaits extradition

The fourth suspect sought in the March cornfield killing of a Franklin County, Tenn., man is in a New Mexico jail awaiting extradition.

Officers with the Lea County, N.M., Drug Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service in Roswell late Tuesday took 46-year-old David Gordon Jenkins into custody on a fugitive-from-justice warrant. He was sought in the slaying of Cowan, Tenn., resident Corey N. Matthews, Franklin County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Chris Guess said in a news release.

Jenkins, who has worked in the past as a steel worker, had been at-large and listed on the TBI's Top Ten Most Wanted since Matthews' body was discovered March 24. Authorities sought him in Tennessee, Kentucky and New York.

John Corey Lanier and Todd E. Dalton, both of Manchester, Tenn., and Coty Keith Holmes, of Hillsboro, Tenn., were taken into custody in the days and weeks after the slaying.

All four men, who are believed to be tied to white supremacist groups, are charged with first-degree murder and felony murder.

Meanwhile, one of the other defendants already faces a trial date in the case.

Over the summer, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Graham severed co-defendant Holmes' case from the other three men's cases and set a trial date for Feb. 18, 2014, after Holmes' attorney filed a motion for a speedy trial, records show.

Mike Taylor, 12th Judicial District attorney general, said Wednesday that prosecutors will deal with the co-defendants' cases as they are brought up in court.

Taylor said Judge Graham tentatively set the other defendants' cases for February, but that will likely change.

"I've heard that at least one of the defendants' attorneys was going to file a motion for severance," he said. "I anticipated that with the three defendants already in custody that there would be severance motions filed."

Taylor said Jenkins will appear before a New Mexico judge and tell him whether he will fight extradition.

Matthews' body was found March 24 in a cornfield on Slag Town Road after his family reported him missing.

He was found lying on his back in clothes wet from a recent rainstorm with blunt trauma to his head and face, TBI and Franklin County officials said.

The family said Matthews, a volunteer firefighter and father of two school-age children, hadn't been seen between the night of March 23 and the morning of March 24 when a missing persons report was filed.

Cowan police officer Mike Holmes stopped to talk to the family that day and drove out beyond Matthews' Tennessee Avenue home to look for him, Chief Allen Edwards said early in the investigation. Holmes spotted Matthews' body just outside the city limits in a cornfield across Slag Town Road from a tiny graveyard called Jackson Cemetery.

Authorities said the four suspects have ties to white supremacy groups, as did the victim. Investigators have said the men's ties to the Aryan Nation and possibly the Aryan Brotherhood are linked to the slaying.

Jenkins is being held in the Lea County Detention Center in Lovington, N.M.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or email bbenton@timesfreepress.com.

about Ben Benton...

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 ...

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