An Oak Ridge man charged with three counts of First Degree Attempted Murder reduced to one count, with two of those charges reduced to felony reckless endangerment.
Jacob Lynn Rutherford, 23, Oak Ridge, was bound over the Anderson County Grand Jury following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, March 7, in Anderson County General Sessions Court, Div. 1.
Presiding Judge Don Layton said the requirement of “premeditation” for a charge of First Degree Murder were not present in two of three instances after testimony from the three people Rutherford allegedly fired a handgun at on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at home at 3008 Clinton Highway..
Nathan Lynn Phillips, in sworn testimony, said he was sitting in the bedroom of William Ernest Foster with several other people of the afternoon of Jan. 13 when Rutherford started making threats against friend of Phillips’.
Phillips said Rutherford “showed off” a handgun he had tucked in the waistband of his pants. Phillips also said Rutherford said he had “four more loaded clips” in his car.
Phillips also said Rutherford was acting “p*ssed off” and then started making threats against friends of his (Phillips).
“He was saying he was going to go pick up an assault rifle,” and go to his (Phillips) friend’s house.
Phillips said he confronted Rutherford after the threats were made.
“I punched him in the left eye,” Phillips said.
He said he knocked Rutherford into an entertainment system and then hit him again, knocking him down.
Phillips said he hit/punched Rutherford three times.
Phillips testified that when Rutherford got up he had pulled the handgun from his waist and fired at him three times, hitting him in the arm, the shoulder, and in the ribs.
William Ernest Foster was behind Phillips at that time.
Foster said he had “probably nodded off,” and woke up when Rutherford fell into him.
Foster said he was sitting on the bed when that happened.
As for the incidents leading up the alleged shooting, Foster said, “I wasn’t really paying attention.”
He said he heard “popping sounds” and then realized he had been shot in the elbow.
Brenda Foster, owner of the home, said she was in the front room — the incident took place in a bedroom at the “back left” of the house — and heard “popping” noises.
She said she went toward the bedroom and Rutherford ran past her and “point his fist” at her.
She said she did not see a gun.
She testified that she heard another “popping” noise and felt a puff of air blow past her face.
In making his decision Judge Layton said the shot striking William Ernest Foster was unintentional — that Foster was behind Phillips at the time.
“Ernie testified that he was shot during the fracas,” Layton commented.
He also noted that Brenda Foster did not see a gun.
But he added if Rutherford was defending himself after being punched three times by Phillips, resorting to using a gun was enough ground for First Degree Attempted Murder.