Raynella Dossett-Leath was convicted of first-degree murder shortly before 2PM on Monday, in a Knox County Criminal Court. Raynella, now 61, was convicted of shooting her second husband, David Leath, in the head with a revolver. She is serving a life sentence in prison and has already been sent to the Tennessee Prison for Women.
This is the second trial for the shooting death of David Leath. In the first trial last year the jury deadlocked 11 to 1. Raynella’s attorney, Jim A. H. Bell, a long time friend of Raynella, put up a strong fight, but the sequence of circumstantial evidence put forth by the prosecutors was too compelling.
“The hardest ordeal to endure was taking her to the dark dank cell and telling that woman ‘the Lord has a plan.’ She’s in jail being fingerprinted. We’re getting her medicines to her, getting the nursing staff to do a clinical assessment.” (WBIR.com-Knoxville, TN, Guilty: Jury finds Raynella Dossett-Leath guilty in murder of husband-by Yvette Martinez-1/26)
The prosecutor, Cindy Lecroy-Schemel, revealed after the verdict came down how they were capable of tightening up their case, after the first trial resulted in a hung jury.
“I believe we closed the gap as to any question as to whether it was homicide or suicide, and I believe because of that, the jury was able to see in fact it was homicide and that she was the only person who had access and motive to commit the homicide.” (WBIR.com-ibid)
Let me just say, there are many tentacles to this story, many sidebars that fill in the picture and help you to understand what actually happened here. For one thing, it’s starting to look like Raynella murdered her first husband, Ed Dossett, a former Knox County District Attorney, back in 1992. This would make it two husbands that went down.
Raynella will go on trial for the first husband in August. As far as how the prosecutors were able to prove that Raynella shot her second husband, David Leath in the head, I will just summarize for you the tapestry of circumstantial proof.
Prosecution had 143 exhibits logged into the case. The evidence from the Colt .38-caliber revolver found by David Leath’s body is the linchpin of their case. The state paints a scene where Raynella fires the Colt.38 three times. The first shot missed, the second was the fatal one and hit David right above the left eye. The third shot missed also.
The state’s final witness was Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ballistics expert Don Carmen. Pay attention! If you understand this, then you’ll know that only Raynella could have done this. It wasn’t so obvious to me the first time.
Don told the jury that the bullet recovered from Leath’s head came from one of two Remington brand cartridge cases found in the revolver cylinder.( m.Knoxnews.com-State rests murder case in Dossett Leath trial-by Jim Balloch-1/23/2010)
The third empty case was a different brand, a Winchester brand that was found directly under the hammer of the gun, proving it was the last one fired. Detectives recovered all three shells. The shell recovered that was a Winchester brand, could not have been fired by a dead man.
Two other important pieces of information convincingly prove that this was a homicide, not a suicide. The Colt.38 was 12 to 14 inches away from the head, according to Knox County Medical Examiner. I must check on how they can narrow the distance that precisely? Powder burns, I believe.
The other thing, is that Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan testified that sedatives were found in Leath’s system. Enough sedatives to render him incapable of shooting the pistol.
A reporter, Yvette Martinez, interviewed the youngest jury member, Miranda Linkous, yesterday. Miranda is quite lucid in explaining why she had to convict Raynella Dossett-Leath. She also explains what she believes to be the motive in this case: greed!