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Prosecutor won't take part in pending home-invasion trial

5:41 PM, May 4, 2013   |    comments
John Carney III
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Written by Philip Grey and Chris Smith, Gannett Tennessee

CLARKSVILLE, TENN. - A district attorney whose son is charged with kidnapping and robbery says the pending criminal case shows where prescription drug abuse can lead and how it can touch any family.

"The first thing I can tell you is it's a good example of what prescription narcotics are doing to society, not only here but across the nation," said John Carney Jr., the chief prosecutor who oversees criminal cases in Montgomery and Robertson counties.

Clarksville police say John Carney III, 27, and three other suspects were arrested after a reported home invasion Thursday on Needmore Road in Clarksville.

Police quickly nabbed Gregory Lee King, 37, Chad Thomas Seay, 28, and Wallace Ross Bryan, 29, but they were still looking for the younger Carney late Thursday.

The district attorney was at home reading the Leaf-Chronicle's website when he saw a news story explaining how the police were looking for his son. As it turns out, the son was asleep in the prosecutor's house.

The elder Carney called police and told them to come pick up his son, according to police spokesman Sgt. Charles Gill.

"I have tremendous confidence in our judicial system and how it works. Justice will be done. The truth will come out," John Carney Jr. said.

Since the case involves his son, Carney will not handle any aspect of the prosecution.

"Naturally, in these situations, our office turns the case over to a pro-tem prosecutor," Carney said. "Any prosecution will still take place in Montgomery County, but the prosecutor and judge will be from outside the area."

Carney was appointed district attorney in 1993 and was then elected to the position the following year. He was last elected to an eight-year term as DA in August 2006 and is up for re-election in 2014.

King, Seay and John Carney III were booked into the Montgomery County Jail on $175,000 bonds. Bryan also was booked on multiple drug and trafficking charges. His bond was set at $179,000.

The younger Carney has had run-ins with the law before, including previous DUI charges.

His most recent legal trouble occurred Oct. 17, 2012, when he was involved in a wreck. The responding officer said Carney III had slurred speech and was unsteady, according to court records.

Carney III told the officer he had taken 15 mg of oxymorphine, 10 mg of oxycodone and 20 mg of another medication, the warrant said.

He pleaded guilty to DUI first offense and was ordered to serve 30 days in jail plus probation. His driver's license was suspended.

"This can affect anybody's life, but my son is a saved Christian. That's the one reassuring thing," Carney Jr. said. They can't take that away from me. They can't take Jesus out of my life or out of his life."

Soldier attacked

Police say the home invasion began around 10 a.m. Thursday when Darnell Jones, a Fort Campbell soldier, noticed an unfamiliar truck with two men inside parked near his Needmore Road apartment.

Jones said he had just arrived home and was wearing his uniform.

He then saw another man wearing dirty, blue work clothes and muddy boots walking around the side of the apartment, talking on a phone. As Jones walked toward his front door, the man walked up to him.

"He must have seen the name tape on my uniform," Jones said, "because he said, 'Hey, Mr. Jones, we have to do some construction' - something about leveling off the yard."

Jones said his wife then went to the beauty salon, leaving Jones home with his children, ages 4 and 2. While she was gone, at around 1:15 p.m., the same man he had talked to earlier knocked on the door.

"At first, I didn't open the door," Jones said. "We were talking through the window, and he said, 'Mr. Jones, we have a problem with your sewage. ...'

"I came outside and he was standing there while another guy was standing by the storm drain, acting like he was lifting it up. There must have been another guy behind the wall, out of sight."

He said the men then came at him together and pushed him through the door. Jones said he fought but then realized that his children were in danger. He stopped fighting in hopes the intruders would take what they wanted and leave.

Jones said he was bound with electrical tape and shoved onto the couch, adding the men wanted money and guns and threatened to cut him with a knife.

A short time later, Jones' wife returned home. One of the men pushed the door closed and told her there was a major water problem.

"I heard her voice and told them, 'Man, just leave, go out the back door,' " Jones said.

They went out the back, and Jones, whose legs were unrestricted, got up from the couch and broke free of the tape, he said. He ran to the front door, told his wife what was going on and then rushed upstairs for his pistol.

According to police, as the suspects sped off, Jones fired shots at their truck and the family called police.

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