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Local News – August 29, 2022

Here is your Cleveland, Tenn. | Bradley County, Tenn. news on mymix1041.com

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Former State Representative, Robin Smith from Hixson, could be a key witness in the case against Former Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada. Smith plead guilty in March to a single count of wire fraud in an alleged bribery and kickback conspiracy involving Smith, former Speaker Casada and ex-Casada chief of staff Cade Cothren. As part of her plea agreement, Smith is cooperating with federal prosecutors.  Charges against Casada and Cothren include wire fraud, money laundering, theft from programs receiving federal funds, bribery and kickbacks. At the heart of the indictment was political vendor Phoenix Solutions LLC. Prosecutors say the firm was created by Cothren and supported by Casada. Cothren, 35, had an interest in keeping his involvement concealed given his forced resignation amid a 2019 blowup over inappropriate texts messages exchanged between himself and Casada. In a new filing Friday, Smith’s legal team moved without opposition from prosecutors to delay the former lawmaker’s sentencing hearing, which had been scheduled for Oct. 17. The Casada and Cothren trial is scheduled for Oct. 25 before U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson in Nashville, where Smith is expected to testify. Cassada is the only Tennessee Speaker of the House ever to face federal criminal charges.

From the Tennesseean

A Department of Defense effort that began in 2015 to use advanced DNA science to identify the remains of fallen service members, has identified the remains of a Navy sailor from Athens, Tennessee. By matching DNA from his family, scientists were able to identify Oliver K. Burger, who was buried as one of the many unknown casualties of Pearl Harbor. Burger will be honored later this month at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Burger was among the nearly 400 USS Oklahoma service members who were unaccounted for when the battleship was torpedoed and capsized during the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941. He was just 26 years old.

Another story topping state new today… original article

Tennessee is ranked No. 1 in the nation in election integrity according to Heritage Foundation. The think tank released the results of its 2021 study in an online publication that ranked each state on election integrity. The top three categories in the ranking system are accuracy of voter lists, absentee ballot management, and voter ID. Tennessee earned the top spot in the country for election integrity after passing several key pieces of legislation in 2021 and 2022. According to the Heritage Foundation rankings, the Volunteer State scored 84 points out of 100.


Tennessee sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack to be buried

Wate.com Article

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A sailor native to Tennessee, who died during the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941, will be buried in the National Memorial Cemetery in Hawaii later this month.

Oliver Burger was serving aboard the USS Oklahoma during the December 7th attack. The Water Tender 1st Class was from Athens, Tennessee. At the time of the attack he lived in San Pedro, California.

Burger was one of more than 400 crew members who were killed during the Japanese bombardment. Until recently, he was classified as POW/MIA.

Project Oklahoma was launched in 2015, as the Navy Casualty Office worked to identify the 388 sailors who were unaccounted for from the ship.
Rescue teams at work on the capsized hull of USS Oklahoma (BB-37), seeking crew members trapped inside, 7 December 1941. The starboard bilge keel is visible at the top of the upturned hull. Officers’ Motor Boats from Oklahoma and USS Argonne (AG-31) are in the foreground. USS Maryland (BB-46) is in the background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Captain Robert McMahon, Director of Navy Casualty office, said, “Briefing Families, I often hear, ‘we did not believe he was dead’, ‘probably he was not onboard the ship’, ‘maybe one day he would walk through the door.’”

Since 2015, 355 remains have been matched using DNA reference samples from family members.

While it’s been more than 80 years since the attack, Capt. McMahon said families are still looking for that closure.

“Most often the notification and identification briefing is emotional, overwhelming and relieving all at the same time for the families.” He continued, “Most families cannot believe their loved ones were recovered after so many years, they prayed or hoped to have closure someday.”

Burger will receive a full military burial, paid for by the Navy, on August 31 at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Oliver Burger …

He has received the following military honors: Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet Clasp), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with Bronze Star), American Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.


Former Bradley sheriff recommends against murderer’s parole

CHATTANOOGA — Tennessee Parole Board member Tim Gobble, a former federal agent, and Bradley County sheriff, recommended denial of parole for a Cleveland man who shot to death his wife in 1990.
The board, which met in Chattanooga on Thursday, Aug. 25, set a final decision for seven to 10 days from now.
Raquel Wilson and her brother, Brian Wilson, as well as other family members, were there to keep Larry Kelley, now 75, in prison for the first-degree murder of their mother, Brenda Wilson, 41. She and Kelley were divorced and estranged when she was gunned down outside a church.
Kelley is currently serving a life sentence at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville. If parole is denied, he will get a new hearing in September 2023.
It was Kelley’s fifth parole board review since his initial hearing in 2014.
Last year, the seven-member board voted 4-3 to decline Kelley’s release.
A Dec. 3, 1990, article in the Cleveland Daily Banner stated an argument erupted between the divorced couple and led to the shooting, which took place at the Church of the Harvest on Adkisson Drive on a Sunday night.
When Cleveland Police Department detectives arrived at the church, Wilson’s body was “found lying on the ground next to the passenger’s side of a vehicle” in the church parking lot.
The detectives said Wilson “had received multiple wounds to the chest and back from a Colt .380-caliber semi-automatic firearm.”
Wilson was transported to Bradley Memorial Hospital — now Tennova Healthcare – Cleveland — and died a short time later.
Officers said Kelley “told them he had waited on his ex-wife to come out of the church, confronted her and that an argument had ensued, which resulted in the shooting.”
Wilson had filed a report on her ex-husband the preceding day when he allegedly accosted her at a laundry room at Blythewood Apartments where she lived on Stephens Road, the Banner reported.
During the incident, Kelley “reportedly grabbed his ex-wife around the neck and choked her and threatened to kill her,” the article stated.
Wilson was said, “to have told officers that she had an order of protection against her ex-husband.”
Kelley was convicted on Dec. 5, 1991, in Bradley County Criminal Court.
During Thursday’s hearing, Gobble said Kelley’s background consisted of domestic violence incidents dating back to 1970.
Kelley said he remembered his own father physically abusing his mother, as well as himself. “Sometimes people who are abused become abusers,” Kelley said.
At the time of the shooting, Kelley said he was suffering from major depression, culminating what he described as a “psychotic episode.”
During last year’s hearing, Kelley said he had little memory of his ex-wife’s murder, claiming he had been in “mental distress.”
“I was under a doctor’s care for depression and anxiety and sleeplessness,” Kelley said. “To be honest, I guess I just lost control of my emotions and paid a heavy price. It was like I was in a daze.”
Kelley also said last year he had maintained a clean prison record, with the exception of an infraction in 2009, where food was found in his cell, and that he had been a teacher’s aide in an HVAC class for 26 years.
“I did that to try to help other inmates make a decent living wage so they wouldn’t have to get back out there and go to work for minimum wage and be tempted to do something illegal to make more money,” he said.
“I have lived with regret for 32 years,” he said during Thursday’s hearing.
Kelley’s niece, Michelle Lawson, was one of three Kelley supporters who spoke during Thursday’s hearing. She said the shooting was “not in character at all.”
She offered her home as a place to reside if Kelley were to be released.
Raquel Wilson, who remained unconvinced of Kelley’s remorse, said he “continues to lie and make excuses.”
Additionally, she said she and her brother, Brian Wilson, have endured decades of depression, trauma and anxiety caused by her mother’s murder.
“But you don’t see us going out here murdering anybody,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes.
Brian Wilson, visibly angry, said Kelley was “not a changed man.”
“He needs to stay in prison,” he said. “He took a mother, a grandmother, a neighbor, a friend, and a sister.”