Clark filed notices against Oak Ridge couple accused of 2019 murder
Anderson County District Attorney General Dave Clark filed a Notice of Intent to Seek Sentence of Death against Sean Finnegan and Rebbeca Dishman Monday.
Finnegan and Dishman are accused of the murder of Jennifer Gail Paxton, 36, in December 2019 in Oak Ridge. Clark’s office is seeking the death penalty against the pair, for the “heinous” nature of the crime.
At the time of their arrests, Finnegan was 52 and Dishman was 22. They have been held at the Anderson County Detention Facility since their arrest on Aug. 6, 2020.
Oak Ridge Police Department arrested and charged the pair after responding to a homicide report at the East Fairview Road, Oak Ridge, home where Finnegan and Dishman were living.
Law enforcement officials found the body of Paxton during their search.
Finnegan and Dishman allegedly tortured, raped, and then strangled Paxton. Paxton’s body was “cut and broken” and allegedly hidden in a freezer by the couple in the home. Oak Ridge Police said at the time of the arrests, that Paxton had been killed “sometime around Christmas,” of 2019.
Finnegan allegedly pulled Paxton’s body from the freezer and hid her remains under a bed.
The arrest warrants for Finnegan and Dishman alleged the couple lured Paxton to their home with a “promise of a place to stay.”
The couple are alleged to have chained and shackled Paxton to a bed, raped her, “beat her with a baseball bat so she would not resist or try to escape,” then strangled her, “causing her to die.”
Paxton’s body was in the early morning hours of Thursday, Aug. 7, after a search warrant for the home was served.
The arrest warrants say the couple admitted to their crimes after being read their Miranda rights.
Finnegan is charged with five felonies: First-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Dishman is also charged with five felonies: First-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
In his Notice of Intent Clark identified the legal factors alleged in this case that may qualify Finnegan and Dishman for the death penalty:
“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious or cruel in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond what is necessary to produce death;
“The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or interfering with or preventing arrest or prosecution for aggravated kidnapping;
“The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or interfering with or preventing arrest or prosecution for aggravated rape;
“The murder was committed solicited, directed or aided by the defendant while the defendant had a substantial role in committing the offense of aggravated kidnapping;
“The murder was committed solicited, directed or aided by the defendant while the defendant had a substantial role in committing the offense of aggravated rape;
“The defendant knowingly mutilated the body of the victim after death.”
With the Notice of Intent a death penalty qualified attorney will be appointed for each defendant and they have the right to a second attorney.
The next scheduled appearance in this case against the couple is March 4 in Anderson County Criminal Court. Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword will be the presiding judge.
Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Ryan Spitzer recused himself from the case based on his involvement as a prosecutor before being appointed judge.