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Woman sentenced to 50 years for connection in murder case of Claiborne County man

Courtney Gilpin is among three people that were charged with the murder of Aaron Massengill.

CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Tenn. — One of the three suspects charged with killing a Claiborne County man will spend 50 years in prison. 

District Attorney Jared Effler confirmed to 10News that Courtney Gilpin pleaded guilty in Claiborne County Criminal Court on Aug. 5 for her role in the murder of Aaron Massengill. 

Effler said Gilpin received the sentence for the plea agreement the same day after the victim's family was consulted. 

The two other suspects, Patrick Smith and Jimmy Riffe, will be in court at a later date, according to the district attorney. 

The three were arrested and charged after Massengill's body was discovered in 2021 along Ferguson Ridge Road. 

PREVIOUS STORY: 3 indicted in murder case of Tazewell man Aaron Massengill

Massengill was last seen the night of Feb. 16 that year in his black, 1991 Nissan pickup, according to court documents. The investigation spanned several counties in East Tennessee, including Sullivan County. The investigation also reached into Middlesboro, Ky. 

"In my 35 years in law enforcement, this has been the most difficult case I've ever been involved with," Claiborne County Sheriff Bobby Brooks said in a past interview with 10News. "I personally have known Aaron and his family for many years. Our hearts are heavy."

Court records suggest the three engaged in a plot to lure Massengill out so they could take his truck.  

PREVIOUS STORY: Reward offered for information on missing Tazewell man who disappeared

Riffe and Smith face several charges including first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in the death of Massengill.  

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