Murder Case Could End With Plea Deal
Monday, July 5, 2010 7:23 am
Resolution could come this week in a nearly two-year-old Cannon County murder case.
The trial for Randy Durham, indicted for second degree murder in the shooting death of Ronnie Baxter in November 2008, is set to begin Wednesday in Cannon County Circuit Court.
However, the Cannon Courier has learned from two sources that a plea arrangement has been agreed to in the case, the details of which are expected to be announced in court Wednesday.
During his arraignment hearing following his indictment, Durham entered a not guilty plea to the charges of second degree murder and reckless endangerment.
Following is an account of the incident published by the Murfreesboro Post in November 2008:
Rutherford County native killed in Cannon County
A lingering disagreement over money resulted in a former Rutherford County man being shot and killed in front of some 20 high school students Friday in Cannon County, a Cannon County detective said Monday.
Ronnie Baxter Sr., 46, of U.S. Highway 70 South (McMinnville Highway) near Woodbury died after suffering two gunshot wounds during a fight outside his brother’s home on Hollow Springs Road off state Route 53 (Manchester Highway) near Hindman’s Body Shop, said Cannon County Detective Capt. Charlie Wilder. He was shot with a small caliber handgun.
County medical examiner Dr. Leon Reuhland pronounced Baxter deceased at Stones River Medical Center. An autopsy was performed at the state medical examiner’s office.
Suspect Randy Durham, 47, of Porterfield Road was charged with second-degree murder after Wilder discussed the fatal shooting with Assistant District Attorney David Puckett. Durham was booked into Cannon County Jail. He was released Saturday after bondsman Chris Highers made his $250,000 bond set by General Sessions Court Judge Susan Melton.
Baxter and Durham originally got into an altercation about 3:20 p.m. outside the Sonic on Murfreesboro Road in Murfreesboro until the manager ordered them to leave. They moved the argument to property owned by Baxter’s brother, Robert on Hollow Springs Road.
“It was allegedly over a past unpaid debt,” Wilder said.
With more than 20 high school students present, Baxter and Durham apparently got into an argument where Durham allegedly shot Baxter, Wilder said. Durham did not sustain any injuries.
“The investigation has not shown he (Baxter) was armed,” Wilder said. “People are saying he had a knife but we can’t find it.”
People who have the knife are asked to bring it to the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department.
Both Baxter and Durham have prior criminal histories.
Baxter, who lived in the Kittrell community most of his life, was previously charged by Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office with two counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment with a weapon. He was last arrested four years ago on a stalking charge.
Wilder charged Durham with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault June 8, 2007 after he entered a Cannon County home armed with a firearm. He was convicted of a lesser offense but did not serve jail time.
Baxter was a self-employed contractor. He delivered newspapers most of his adult life.
Durham works at the Clopay plant in Nashville. His wife owns the Lion’s Den, a pizza restaurant in downtown Woodbury where Durham works parttime.
Vandals shattered the restaurant door and wrote “Durhams = coward” on their property. Other suspects made obscene gestures toward the Durham family. Three people were arrested.
Durham’s hearing is set Dec. 2 in Cannon County General Sessions Court.
Wilder and Detective Vance Walker are still investigating the shooting.