Keianthony Garrett pleaded guilty Monday to murdering neighbor Cynthia Green of Dickson in a deal that puts him behind bars for life without the possibility of parole and spares him the death penalty.
The plea deal was announced about 11 a.m. by Dickson County Circuit Judge David Wolfe on the day Garrett’s trial was set to start. He was indicted in May 2016, when he was 21.
Green was 51 when she was killed on March 8, 2016.
Garrett lived next door to Green in a Dickson Housing Authority duplex on East Railroad Street. Prosecutors said he broke into her home, raped her and beat her to death. He bludgeoned her with a clothes iron and stabbed her with shards of broken dishes. There were signs of a struggle and the apartment was trashed.
The plea deal was abrupt, as a jury had already been chosen last Friday. The 16 jurors, including four alternates among the eight men and eight women, were ordered by Wolfe on Friday to be sequestered in a hotel beginning Sunday night.
The courthouse in Charlotte was packed every day last week with several hundred prospective jurors, who filled out a 19-page questionnaire and were questioned in groups by lawyers from both sides.
The plea deal rendered all of that moot.
Dressed in khakis and a blue dress shirt Monday, flanked by his two lawyers, Garrett stood in court and answered “Yes, sir” to a series of questions from Wolfe about giving up his right to a trial.
But he hesitated when prompted to enter the plea, instead saying something to his lawyers. A 15-minute recess followed, and Garrett pleaded guilty when the court came back into session.
The trial originally was set for February 2019.
Weeping members of Green’s family in court Monday had no comment when asked whether justice was served by the plea deal in which prosecutors dropped their death-penalty bid.
District Attorney Ray Crouch said family members were consulted prior to his office entering into the deal. “Absolutely,” he said. “Always.”
Defense lawyers Luke Evans and Paul Bruno had no comment on the outcome.