ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — A woman accused of robbing and killing an 83-year-old man in Rocky Top in August 2018 pleaded guilty to murder in Anderson County Criminal Court on Tuesday.
Judge Ryan Spitzer sentenced Christy Comer, 41, to life in prison with the possibility of parole plus an additional 20 years to run consecutively after she pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the death of J.C. Copeland.
A life sentence in Tennessee carries 51 years, meaning Comer is all-but-certain to spend the rest of her life in prison with the additional 20 years. Comer has been in custody since her arrest on August 31, 2018.
In the overnight hours of August 30, 2018, prosecutors said Comer robbed Copeland to get money for methamphetamine. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation worked with the Rocky Top Police Department to investigate, saying they found Copeland's body outside a home on Jacksboro Avenue.
On September 4, 2018, investigators announced they identified Comer as a suspect, saying she strangled Copeland at his home and hid his body under his porch. She told investigators she murdered him because she believed he would be an easy target.
"This was an especially heinous case considering the vulnerability of the victim, Mr. Copeland," TBI Special Agent John Hannon testified Tuesday.
Comer said she stole some items from Copeland's home, including a DVD player that she sold for $10 worth of methamphetamine.
In March 2019, a grand jury indicted Comer for three counts of murder, robbery, and aggravated burglary. As part of the plea deal Tuesday, the judge dropped two of the three murder counts and the burglary count.
"Violence against the elderly is one of the most egregious crimes we prosecute. Hopefully, the fact that Ms. Comer will spend the rest of her life in prison provides some level of comfort to Mr. Copeland's family and deterrence to those who would hurt seniors," Anderson County District Attorney Dave Clark said.