A family of witnesses called by the state to prove their theory of second-degree murder charged against a Crossville woman instead provided a defense for the defendant, a judge noted recently.

Criminal Court Judge David Patterson delayed issuing a ruling on defense attorney Tom Beesley's motion to dismiss the murder charge against his client, Christly Lynn Presley, 36, who is charged with the stabbing death of 24-year-old Misty Randolph.

Both had been sharing a residence on Fourth St. in Crossville on Jan. 17 when the incident took place.

In a recent hearing, Assistant District Attorney General Gary McKenzie called the defendant's husband, Robert Presley, and her three sons – Sean, Nicholas and Tyler – all of whose testimony was the same.

The Presleys and several other people including the victim shared a residence on Fourth St. until the night of the slaying when an argument broke out between Christy Presley and Randolph. The verbal dispute culminated in Presley ordering Randolph to remove her personal belongings from the residence and find another place to live.

Also ordered to vacate the residence was, according to Robert Presley, Randolph's girlfriend, Jenny Varner.

Robert Presley testified the ill feelings between his wife and Randolph grew out of an accusation that Christy Presley "had slept" with Varner's ex-husband.

Around 6:30 that evening, Randolph and Varner started packing and as they carried their belongings down the stairs, the two were shouting insults at Christy Presley, the husband testified.

Robert Presley said he entered the dining room where Christy was cleaning up supper dishes. He said his wife picked up a kitchen knife and was in the process of turning to go to the kitchen when Randolph came into the room, hollering insults.

"Misty comes charging in and Christy turned around with the knife as Misty lunged at Christy and she landed on the knife," Presley testified during the hearing.

He said Randolph then backed up, turned and went outside where she collapsed on the front lawn. He said his wife went into the bedroom, sat down on the bed, dropped the knife and dialed 911.

Robert Presley said he went to tell his landlord, who lived next door, what had happened. He added that the stabbing was "accidental."

Son Sean echoed that testimony, stating he saw the argument between his mom and Misty Randolph, and that Randolph ran toward his mom as his mom turned with knife in hand and that Randolph "landed on the knife."

Fourteen-year-old Nicholas testified that he also witnessed the argument during which Randolph called his mother "a whore" and then saw Misty "lunge" at his mom as she turned with the knife.

Son Tyler, age 12, testified he heard the commotion and went into the dining room to see what was going on, just in time to see Randolph "lunge at my mom and mom turned with the knife."

Tyler added, "Misty said, 'I'm stabbed. I'm stabbed,' and left the room."

McKenzie then called Robert Presley's ex-sister-in-law, Melissa Spivey, who testified that Robert Presley and the three boys showed up at her house the night of the stabbing.

She testified that she heard Robert tell the boys, "Remember what you said and say nothing else but exactly what you said."

She said the three siblings were quiet and didn't discuss what they had witnessed in her presence.

Beesley's motion called for the dismissal based on four eye-witness accounts that gave no indication of intentional or negligent act causing the death, that Randolph lunged at Christy Presley when she was holding a knife, and that the state medical examiner failed to find any defensive injuries that would have indicated something other than an accident.

Patterson noted that the state had the burden to prove the stabbing was an act of passion. All the witnesses testified that the victim lunged at the accused while she was holding a knife.

"It is not a very strong case," Patterson told the prosecutor. "The state's witnesses established a defense."

He then postponed issuing a ruling on whether the charge should be dismissed until Jan. 28.

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