I admit up front that I don’t know the intricacies of how Knoxville is set up. But I know, for instance, it was the Knox County sheriff’s department that seemed to have no interest in investigating the death of Henry Granju and the Knoxville Police Department who eventually arrested people tied to Henry’s death. And the lack of a real investigation into Granju’s death struck me–and many others–as very, very odd. When District Attorney Randy Nichols told Granju’s family that no arrests were going to happen, it was, again, odd.
Today, I read about a judge in Knox County so fucked up on hydrocodone that four people convicted in one of the most brutal sexual torture deaths you’ve ever heard of all get new trials. So, the families of the victims get to go through all that again because of this judge.
But that’s not the part I want to draw to your attention.
Despite efforts by friends and colleagues including his secretary Jennifer Judy and a longtime friend and fellow officeholder, District Attorney General Randy Nichols, the judge denied he had a problem, Blackwood said.
Yes, that same Randy Nichols who mysteriously couldn’t find anyone to prosecute for the drug-related death of the son of a prominent Knoxville family is the same Randy Nichols who knew a judge presiding over his courtroom out of his mind on hydrocodone.
The people who ended up arrested by the Knoxville Police Department (though not for Granju’s death) also have political ties.
Granju was in the home shared by Randall Houser and Yolanda Harper, two of the people arrested on drug charges Tuesday, when he became unresponsive due to the overdose and was taken to the hospital. He died a month later from complications.
According to the Knox County Sheriff’s file on the case, Harper says she met Granju through Elizabeth Gooch, Henry’s girlfriend in spring 2010. Gooch’s mother, Laurie, was among those indicted and arrested Tuesday. The file also says Harper and the elder Gooch met while working at the dental clinic run by Gooch’s father, Reuben Pelot III. Dr. Pelot is the husband of former Knoxville City Councilwoman Barbara Pelot.
I don’t know if or how those dots connect, but I hope the TBI is looking into it.
Updated to add: Whoa, looks like Glenn Reynolds and I are on the same page about this (and is that a sentence you ever thought you’d read?). It might be different if they were just from completely different socioeconomic classes or if Knoxville were bigger. But the space between Granju and Baumgartner is just too narrow for the TBI or someone to not see if the steps can be made.
Updated again to add: Henry’s mom, Katie Granju says this:
The felon who supplied Judge Baumgartner with pills in the period before TBI busted the case open claimed a number of things in his own court pleadings, all of which now appear to have been confirmed as accurate. He also alleged that Judge Baumgardner told him that previously, it had been “law enforcement” providing the Judge with illegal Rx narcotics.
Consider my eyebrow raised.