Note: This story was last updated at 4:45 p.m.
CLINTON—An Oak Ridge man was sentenced to the maximum 30 years in prison in an attempted murder case as part of a plea agreement on Thursday after a shooting last year left a woman with life-threatening injuries.
William Antwon Mollette, 44, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during a dangerous felony in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton on Thursday.
Mollette, who has a prior felony conviction in Alabama, received the maximum 25 years on the attempted first-degree murder charge, a Class A felony, and he received the maximum five years on the firearm possession charge, a Class D felony. The two sentences are to be served consecutively for a total 30-year sentence.
The victim of the shooting, Cathy Griffin, was agreeable to the 30-year sentence, Tony Craighead, deputy district attorney general in Anderson County, told Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge.
Griffin read a statement in court during the plea agreement hearing. She described being shot and stalked by Mollette at a home on Walsh Lane last year, having her lungs collapse and blood stream from her abdomen, and knowing that she, a nurse, was dying.
The shooting occurred on Friday, September 29, 2017, on Walsh Lane in north Oak Ridge. Griffin had life-threatening injuries and had to be airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, according to affidavits filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge last year. Medical personnel found five injuries around Griffin’s torso that appeared to have been caused by high-velocity projectiles, Oak Ridge Police Department Detective A. Marvell Moore said in the affidavits.
Mollette tried to incapacitate or kill Griffin by pointing a small, black .380 caliber Ruger LCP at her and firing numerous times, until the magazine was empty, “with the sole intent of killing the victim (Griffin),” according to the affidavits.
After the shooting, Moore said, Mollette was observed rapidly leaving the Walsh Lane driveway in a black sedan. The car accelerated away from the home and began traveling east on West Outer Drive, Moore said.
Officers immediately stopped the fleeing vehicle, a black Ford Taurus registered in Alabama, at the intersection of West Outer Drive and West Wadsworth Circle, Moore said. Mollette was driving the car, according to the affidavits, and officers found a .38 caliber revolver in the glove compartment in front of the passenger’s seat.
“Post Miranda, the defendant (Mollette) confessed to committing the violent act,” Moore said. “The defendant stated the incident originated over him having to surrender his puppy. He said the victim insisted that he give the puppy up after he had grown attached to it. After relinquishing custody of the puppy, he began to hold a grudge toward the victim.
“On this day, the defendant advised he had drank (alcohol) in excess, which affected his mood. The victim asked the defendant what was wrong, and he had a drastic change in behavior. The defendant stated, ‘I unloaded on her with a little .380. If I could have found the other gun, I would have shot her with it. I couldn’t find it.’
“Said handgun was found at the scene,” Moore said.
Griffin offered her account in the victim statement that she read in court on Thursday. Mollette attacked her, Griffin said. He calmly stated, “You know tonight is the night you’re going to die,” Griffin said.
She said she was shot twice in the chest and three times in the abdomen.
After the first shot, Mollette stalked her, Griffin said, including in the front yard of the home. As protection, she tried to keep a car between the two of them. Each shot by Mollette was a separate decision, Griffin said.
Her lungs collapsed, and blood was streaming from her abdomen, Griffin said. She couldn’t scream for help as she tried to stop the blood flow and get help from a neighbor. Then, when she was at her weakest, Mollette stole her car and fled, Griffin said.
She knew she she was dying, shut her eyes, and “gave up,” Griffin said. She remembered that her mother had lost her only other child in 2004.
Griffin woke up nine days after the shooting, on October 8, in the intensive care unit at the UT Medical Center. She had nine surgeries and died three times. Her family had discussed funeral arrangements. She spent 30 days in the hospital, said Craighead, the prosecutor.
Griffin said she still remembers every moment of the shooting and has had “night terrors.”
“It haunts me to this day,” she said.
There are financial burdens, the complications of being cared for, scars and old wounds, and intense pain. She had two more surgeries in May, and a doctor said her abdomen looks like she has been in a war zone. She’s probably lost 10-12 years of her life, Griffin said.
But, she added: “He has not taken away my will to live. He has not broken my spirit.”
Citing his previous criminal history, Griffin said Mollette is the “epitome of evil.”
“He describes himself as extreme violence,” she said.
Mollette did not respond to those statements in court on Thursday. In an agreed-upon case, the defendant does not usually have a chance to respond to a victim statement. Mollette was represented by Anderson County Public Defender Tom Marshall.
Charges against Mollette were sent to the Anderson County Grand Jury after a preliminary hearing in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on Tuesday, February 13.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous story here.
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