A forensic evaluation has been ordered for Sean Finnegan—one of two defendants in a murder, sex crimes, and kidnapping case in Oak Ridge—at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.
The forensic evaluation was ordered last Tuesday by Anderson County General Sessions Court Judge Roger Miller. The order was based upon a petition by the defense and a recommendation from Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services. Finnegan, 52, had an evaluation scheduled at Ridgeview in Oak Ridge on August 31.
Under the new order, he is to be evaluated at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute—Intensive Services Program for a maximum of 30 days regarding his competency to stand trial and his mental condition at the time of the alleged crimes (the insanity defense).
IQ testing is to be included in the evaluation, the order said. The mental health evaluation is also expected to include a finding about whether Finnegan meets specific criteria for being committed.
It’s not unusual for defendants in homicide cases to have a mental health evaluation of this type. The results are generally not available to the public.
A psychiatric examination has been ordered for Finnegan’s co-defendant, Rebecca Dishman, 22, at Ridgeview in Oak Ridge on Wednesday.
No other information has been released publicly about the case since arrest affidavits were filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge on August 6.
Oak Ridge Today has asked follow-up questions about the alleged murder of Jennifer Gail Paxton, the 36-year-old victim, by Finnegan and Dishman. Police said Finnegan and Dishman tortured, raped, and strangled Paxton before her mutilated body was stuffed into a freezer in a home on East Fairview Road.
Among the questions:
- Does ORPD know when the alleged crimes against Paxton occurred?
- How did ORPD receive the report of a possible homicide at the home?
- Had ORPD received a report of Paxton as a missing person?
- Was anyone else living at the East Fairview Road home in Oak Ridge, and were any crimes allegedly committed against anyone else in the home?
In August, City of Oak Ridge spokesperson Lauren Gray said the Oak Ridge Police Department cannot release any more information about the case beyond what is already in arrest warrants filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court in Oak Ridge.
That’s not unusual in criminal cases. Prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and defense attorneys are generally reluctant to discuss information about criminal cases that is not included in court records or stated in court hearings.
Finnegan and Dishman are charged with murder, sex crimes, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse in a series of gruesome alleged crimes against Paxton. Bond for both defendants has been set at $1 million.
Finnegan has been charged with five felonies after the Oak Ridge Police Department responded to a homicide report at the home on East Fairview Road on Wednesday night, August 5, and found Paxton’s body during a search of the home early Thursday, August 6. The five felony charges against Finnegan are first-degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Dishman has also been charged with five felonies: first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
Arrest warrants filed for Finnegan and Dishman said they lured Paxton to the home in east Oak Ridge with the promise of a place to stay.
But once at the home, Paxton became the victim of a series of gruesome crimes, according to the warrants, which were filed by Oak Ridge Police Department Sergeant Marvell Moore.
The warrants said both Finnegan and Dishman admitted to their crimes after being read their Miranda rights.
It’s not clear when the alleged crimes occurred. The affidavits attached to the warrants said they occurred on or after December 23, 2019.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
You can contact John Huotari, owner and publisher of Oak Ridge Today, at (865) 951-9692 or [email protected]
Most news stories on Oak Ridge Today are free, brought to you by Oak Ridge Today with help from our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. This is a free story. Thank you to our advertisers, sponsors, and subscribers. You can see what we cover here.
Do you appreciate this story or our work in general? If so, please consider a monthly subscription to Oak Ridge Today. See our Subscribe page here. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today.
We also accept donations. You can donate here.
Copyright 2021 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.