Terry King Tennessee Death Row

terry king

Terry King was sentenced to death by the State of Tennessee for a kidnapping and murder. According to court documents Terry King would kidnap Diana Kay Smith, shoot her in the back of the head and dumped her body in a quarry. Terry King would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.

Tennessee Death Row Inmate List

Terry King 2021 Information

Birth Date:06/14/1962
TDOC ID:00103308
State ID Number (SID):47015

Terry King More News

Mrs. Smith left her home on Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1983, to go to
a nearby McDonald’s to get food for her family. Her automobile, a 1979
Camaro, was found on August 4, 1983, off the road in a heavily wooded area
near Blaine, Tennessee.
        On August 6, 1983, Mrs. Donna Allen went to the Asbury quarry in
Knox County to swim. She noticed a strange odor coming from a yellow
tarpaulin in the water near the bank, and reported the circumstance to the
sheriff’s office. On following-up Mrs. Allen’s report, officers found the body
of a white female in an advanced state of decomposition. The body was later
identified as being that of Mrs. Smith. Death was from one or more shots fired
into the back of Mrs. Smith’s head from a high-powered weapon.
       In the course of the police investigation, the attention of the officers
was focused on Terry King and Randall Sexton when Jerry Childers, an
acquaintance of King, reported a conversation he had had with King and what
he had found when he followed up on the conversation.
       Jerry Childers testified that Terry King came to his house on the
afternoon of Monday, August 1, 1983, and inquired as to whether Childers
knew anyone that wanted to buy parts from a 1979 Camaro. According to
Childers, King told Childers he had killed the woman who owned the
automobile after she threatened to charge defendant with rape. According to
Childers, defendant said he made the woman get out of the car trunk where he
had confined her and lie face down on the ground, that the woman faced the
defendant and begged him not to shoot her and offered money, and that he
ordered her to turn her head away from him. When she did, he shot her in the
back of the head. Defendant also told Childers he took forty dollars from the
woman as well as taking her automobile.
        The following Friday, which was August 5, 1983, Childers related
defendant’s story to Mr. Buford Watson. On Sunday, Childers went to the
location defendant had described as the place of the killing and found
something with hair on it. Childers then gave the information he had to
Detective Herman Johnson of the Knox County Sheriff's Department and
T.B.I. agent, David Davenport. In following up the report, the officers met
Childers near Richland Creek and searched the area, finding pieces of bone,
hair, and bloodstains. A later more thorough search turned up bullet fragments
and additional bone fragments.

        In the course of the police investigation, defendant and co-defendant,
Sexton, were interviewed by the officers. Both gave written statements
detailing the events of the night of July 31, 1983. Neither defendant testified
in the guilt phase of the trial, but their statements were introduced in evidence.
Both defendants testified in the sentencing phase of the trial and repeated in
substance the facts set forth in the statements given the police officers in their
        The statements of King and Sexton were markedly similar for the time
the two men were together. King’s statement was the more comprehensive
since it covered the entire period of time he was with Mrs. Smith. According
to defendant, he and his cousin, Don King, picked up Mrs. Smith at the
Cherokee Dam on Sunday, July 31, 1983. Defendant drove Mrs. Smith in her
automobile to the nearby house trailer of his cousin, arriving there around 7:00
p.m. Don King drove his own automobile to the trailer. Shortly after arriving
at the trailer, defendant called Eugene Thornhill who came to the trailer and
left with defendant to obtain LSD and quaaludes. Defendant said he and Mrs.
Smith took the drugs. Thereafter, defendant, Don King, and Eugene Thornhill
had sex with Mrs. Smith.
        After staying at the trailer for several hours, defendant and Mrs. Smith
left in her automobile, with defendant driving. They went to a wooded area,
where they again had sex. From there, they went to a service station for gas.
Mrs. Smith got out of the automobile and grabbed the keys. Defendant told
her to get back in the automobile and she did so. The defendant drove Mrs.
Smith back to the wooded area, where they again had sex and the defendant
took forty dollars from Mrs. Smith. According to defendant, Mrs. Smith then
asked “why did you all rape me?” Defendant stated that he knew then what he
was going to do. He told Mrs. Smith to get into the trunk of the automobile.
When she did, defendant drove to Sexton’s house and told Sexton he had a
woman in the trunk of the automobile and needed Sexton’s help. Defendant
got a rifle from Sexton and also a shovel. Defendant and Sexton then left the
Sexton home in separate automobiles. After making a stop at a Publix station
to purchase gas, defendant and Sexton drove to a wooded area near Richland
Creek in Knox County. Defendant drove the 1979 Camaro off the road and
became stuck. He then made Mrs. Smith get out of the automobile trunk and
pointed the loaded rifle at her. Defendant made Mrs. Smith lie down on the
ground, assuring her that he was not going to kill her, that others were coming
to have sex with her. Sexton left in his automobile to return a funnel to the gas
station. While he was gone, defendant shot Mrs. Smith in the back of the
head. On Sexton’s return, and after getting the Camaro unstuck, the two went
through Mrs. Smith’s effects, burning her identification. They then attempted
to bury the body, but gave up because of the hardness of the ground. The next
morning, defendant and Sexton wrapped Mrs. Smith’s body in a tent, weighted
it with cinder blocks and dumped it in the Asburn quarry. Mrs. Smith’s
automobile was hidden near Sexton’s house.
        Agent Davenport testified that after making his statement, the defendant
took him and other officers to the place where the Camaro was hidden and
defendant also showed them where he had hidden the automobile license plate
in a hollow tree. The defendant also showed the officers where he had placed
the body in the quarry and where the shooting occurred.
        Tommy Heflin, a firearms examiner for the Tennessee Bureau of
Investigation [(TBI)], testified that he had examined the .30 Marlin rifle
belonging to Sexton, the metal bullet jacket, and fragments recovered from the
scene of the killing. According to Mr. Heflin, the intact metal jacket had been
fired from Sexton’s rifle and the fragments were fired from a rifle with the
same rifling characteristics as Sexton’s rifle. Mr. Heflin was of the opinion
that at least two bullets had been fired.
       Dr. Joseph Parker, who performed an autopsy on the body of Mrs.
Smith, testified that death was due to an extensive head injury consistent with
gunshot wounds from a high-powered rifle.
        Over objection, the State also presented evidence through Lori Eastman
Carter that defendant had attempted to kill her on October 13, 1982.
According to Mrs. Carter, King hit her with a slapstick numerous times, while
repeatedly asking her “how it felt to be dying, so that the next woman he killed
he would know how she felt.” Mrs. Carter testified that she lost
consciousness. When she came to, she was still in her automobile with her
hair rolled up in the window. She further testified that she heard defendant tell
his cousin that he had killed her and wanted James King to help him put her
in a quarry and burn her automobile.
      James King disputed Mrs. Carter’s version of events, saying that
defendant came to King’s home to get him to follow defendant to St. Mary’s
Hospital as Mrs. Carter was ill and needed treatment.

              Karen Greeg, Lori Carter’s sister, testified that Mrs. Carter [cannot] be
       believed, even under oath.

State v. King, 

718 S.W.2d 241

, 243-45 (Tenn. 1986). The Petitioner sought post-conviction
relief on multiple grounds, including the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-
conviction court denied relief, and this court and the supreme court affirmed. See King v.

989 S.W.2d 319

(Tenn. 1999).
        The Petitioner also sought habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for
the Eastern District of Tennessee. See Terry Lynn King v. Ricky Bell, Warden, No. 3:99-cv-

2011 WL 3566843

(E.D. Tenn. Aug. 12, 2011) (order). The relevant issue raised in his
habeas corpus petition surrounded an allegation that the State “withheld exculpatory,
mitigating, and/or impeachment evidence” in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 

373 U.S. 83


Id. at *32.

During the federal habeas corpus proceedings, subpoenas duces tecum
were issued, and as a result, in 2000, the Petitioner’s counsel discovered certain evidence
possessed by the State at the time of the trial but unknown to the Petitioner’s trial and post-
conviction counsel. Consequently, the Petitioner asserted that the State withheld evidence
showing that only one gunshot was “associated with . . . [the] murder.” 

Id. at *33.

alleged that “records recently obtained . . . from the TBI reveal[ed] that only one bullet was
found at the crime scene and that Ms. Smith was shot one time.” 

Id. The district

court stated
that it “appear[ed] from the record that there was some confusion as to whether the bullet
fragment was recovered from the site where . . . Millard’s1 body was found or where Ms.
Smith was killed.” 

Id. The Petitioner

argued the confusion stemmed from finding one metal
object where Ms. Smith was killed and two at Mr. Millard’s grave site, which were submitted
to the TBI for analysis. 

Id. The court

concluded that the Petitioner failed to show the State
withheld evidence or deliberately presented false evidence and that because overwhelming
evidence existed of the Petitioner’s guilt, including his confession, any alleged violation was

Id. at *34.

The Petitioner also alleged that relative to Ms. Carter, the State
withheld photographs and hospital records that would have impeached her testimony
regarding the Petitioner’s beating her until she was unconscious. The court, though,
concluded that the Petitioner had not established a Brady violation because the evidence
nonetheless showed Ms. Carter was assaulted and received medical treatment for her injuries.

Id. at *34-35.

        After the district court denied habeas corpus relief, the Petitioner filed a motion to
alter or amend the district court’s memorandum and judgment order, in relevant part, with

       The Petitioner was also convicted of the first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping of
Todd Lee Millard after law enforcement questioned the Petitioner regarding Ms. Smith’s death.


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