Tennessee’s own backwoods prosecutor
, District Attorney General Paul Phillips, appears in this month’s issue of GQ magazine
. You may remember Phillips as the guy who insists on retrying a crippled and dying Paul House, despite a lack of compelling evidence
Phillips' GQ appearing doesn't involve modeling the latest overalls or sharing momma’s squirrel pie recipe. He’s mentioned for his role in the botched investigation of the shooting of a Scott County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant named John Yancey.
The story, called Murder in the Meth Lab?
, is a great read, the tale of corrupt East Tennessee lawmen and the junkies they extort and occasionally arrest. It describes how Yancey, a clean cop by all accounts, learned that his partner—Marty Carson, the son of Scott County Sheriff Jim Carson—was using and selling meth stolen from dealers. When Carson learned that Yancey was on to him, he shot Yancey while the two were busting a meth lab in a trailer home. Carson originally said a junkie shot Yancey. Later, Carson changed his story, saying that he shot his partner by accident. This was not the only discrepancy in Carson’s story.
Enter District Attorney Phillips.
About a week after the shooting, he declared the incident a “tragic accident” and closed the case. But after Yancey’s widow Lori won a civil judgment against Carson, Phillips’ office and the TBI reopened the case. Before long the FBI took over. Now federal prosecutors are poking around.
The story reads like a hillbilly Serpico, without the cute hippie girls. Best of all, it looks like justice may prevail for a slain lawman, no thanks to a DA who almost let the case die.