An Oak Ridge man and woman face the death penalty after allegedly kidnapping, raping, torturing, and murdering a 36-year-old woman, and mutilating her body and putting it into a freezer in December 2019.
Dave Clark, Seventh Judicial District attorney general, announced the death penalty decision on Monday.
Oak Ridge Today has previously reported that a decision was expected this month in the criminal case against Sean Shannon Finnegan, 54, and Rebecca Elizabeth Dishman, 23. They have both been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the strangling death of Jennifer Gail Paxton and 10 other charges, including aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.
In a press release, Clark said a district attorney general can seek the death penalty only in certain first-degree murder cases “when one or more factors established by state law are alleged to exist.” Then, it is up to the DA to decide whether to ask the court to impose the death penalty. That decision has now been made, Clark said.
Here are the factors in this case that make the death penalty applicable, according to Clark:
- The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel “in that it involved torture or serious physical abuse beyond what was necessary to produce death.”
- It was committed to avoid being arrested and prosecuted for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape.
- It was committed during an aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape.
- Finnegan and Dishman mutilated Paxton’s body after she died.
Since the state is now seeking the death penalty, special procedures will apply in the court case. These include the appointment of an attorney qualified in death-penalty cases and the right to a second attorney for Finnegan and Dishman.
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