Gunman gets life in Lynn Garden murder

Rain Smith • Jul 12, 2019 at 12:22 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Blountville man who fatally shot a Lynn Garden resident to rob him of marijuana and money — and briefly escaped from jail after being arrested — has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges.

Corey Lee Moore, 29, 4905 Highway 11-W, appeared Friday morning before Sullivan County Criminal Court Judge Jim Goodwin. Moore was sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 52 years.

On April 19, 2018, Moore shot Timothy L. Gilliam, 56, multiple times in the head and upper torso. The slaying occurred in the living room of Gilliam’s home, 524 Stapleton Drive.

Kingsport police were alerted after an acquaintance of Gilliam arrived at the residence and found his body slumped over the couch. Individuals who had recently left the home tabbed Moore as being present, while a neighbor’s home surveillance camera recorded Moore and Gilliam departing and then returning in a Ford Mustang.

On a coffee table in front of Gilliam’s body, detectives found a sales receipt from the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Lynn Garden Drive. A review of surveillance footage showed Moore and Gilliam together at the store.

When questioned about the murder, Moore reportedly tied it to the Walmart trip. According to Sullivan County Assistant District Attorney Gene Perrin, Moore said he had let Gilliam use his food stamp card to buy groceries. When they returned to Gilliam’s home, an argument erupted about how much Gilliam had spent, according to Moore’s account. Moore told detectives that Gilliam reached for a gun in his couch, so Moore wrested it away and fired in self-defense.

Prosecutors say that days later, a guilt-ridden Moore contacted police again, saying, “I haven’t been able to eat or sleep since this happened.” He then changed his story, admitting to bringing a gun to Gilliam’s house, where he intended to purchase two pounds of marijuana. Authorities believe that after killing Gilliam, Moore stole marijuana and cash from the residence.

Besides statements and forensic evidence, the state also possessed a series of texts between Moore and his girlfriend, Chandryia L. White, of Bristol, Tenn. Prosecutors say their exchange shows the killing and robbery were premeditated, as Moore relayed how he was waiting on people to leave Gilliam’s residence, adding, “I’m ready to stand up and let one loose.”

White was later charged with accessory to murder, as she allegedly knew the robbery was going to occur, then assisted Moore in avoiding police.

Along with murder and robbery charges, Moore pleaded guilty Friday morning to escape and theft. Those charges stem from an incident four months after his arrest for Gilliam’s death.

While held at the Sullivan County jail, Moore claimed to be another inmate who was being released. He used that man’s information to be freed by jail staff, then stole a car from the BP station on Highway 394. Hours later, Sullivan County deputies located him hiding in a ditch along Highway 11-W and brought him back into custody.

Following Friday’s court proceeding, Perrin noted that it’s rare for first-degree murder cases to be resolved prior to trial.

“The Kingsport Police Department, especially lead Detective Daniel Horne, worked this case so hard and put together such a strong case that the evidence was overwhelming,” Perrin said. “I think that’s what resulted in Mr. Moore pleading guilty as charged.”

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