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Man gets life sentence for Tenn. shooting

Gunman Jim D. Adkisson (right) killed two at a church. Gunman Jim D. Adkisson (right) killed two at a church.
Associated Press / February 10, 2009
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An out-of-work truck driver smiled yesterday as he pleaded guilty to killing two people and wounding six others at a Tennessee church last summer because he hated its liberal politics.

"Yes, ma'am, I am guilty as charged," Jim D. Adkisson, 58, told Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz before she sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Adkisson was scheduled to stand trial next month in the July 2008 rampage at the Tennessee Valley United Unitarian Church in Knoxville, but decided to enter a plea deal that virtually guarantees he will never leave prison alive.

Public defender Mark Stephens said a mental health specialist determined Adkisson was competent to make the plea, though Stephens was prepared to argue at trial that his client was insane at the time of the crime. Adkisson believed entering the plea was "the honorable thing to do," Stephens said.

Assistant District Attorney Leslie Nassios said Adkisson gave a statement to police and left a suicide note. They showed he planned the attack on the church, where his former wife was once a member, because he hated the church's liberal politics and Democrats, whom he believed "were responsible for his woes."

Evidence would show Adkisson bought the shotgun a month before the attack.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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