Carla Pearman was found beaten and strangled in the couple's Kanatak Lane home on February 14.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -
A Rutherford County man charged with killing his wife on Valentine's Day inside their Murfreesboro home may face the death penalty in his murder charge.
Jacob Pearman, 30, appeared in front of Rutherford County Judge David Bragg for a plea hearing for an aggravated child abuse charge and for a hearing on a motion he filed for a speedy trial in connection with his first degree murder charge.
Pearman is charged with killing his wife Carla, 30, on February 14 during an argument inside their Murfreesboro home.
The couple had been married three months.
Prior to the murder, police charged Pearman for aggravated child abuse in connection to his wife's seven-year-old son, in December 2012.
The boy was removed from the home.
According to police, Pearman confessed to killing his wife during an argument about Carla Pearman's son.
According to the taped confession, Pearman said his wife told him her son could not return to the home while he was still living in the house.
In court, Pearman's attorney Luke Evans argued that prosecutors delayed presenting Pearman's murder case to the grand jury until May and that violates his client Constitutional right to a speedy trial.
"We don't want there to be an issue of this lingering," he said. "What we will be suggesting to the court is setting a trial date in this matter for January."
Prosecutors want to set a trial for the aggravated child abuse charge first and the murder trial second.
Rutherford County District Attorney General William Whitesell said he wants to try the child abuse charge first because that arrest happened first.
Whitesell said trying the child abuse charge first may influence how the prosecution tries the murder case.
"It would also be an aggravating circumstance if the state decides this is capital death penalty case," he said. "This case is not duly delayed compared to other murder cases that come before the court."
Judge Bragg said before ruling on the speedy trial motion that the defendant had to meet four criteria, including length of the delay, if the defendant asked for a speedy trial, would the delay create prejudice and what is the reason for the delay.
The judge ruled that only one criterion was met and that was Pearman requested a speedy trial.
The judge denied the motion.
The judge also ruled the prosecution can try the child abuse charge first if they choose.
Outside of court Pearman's attorney said the fight to keep the child abuse trial from influencing the murder trial will continue.
"That appears to be an intentional decision in an effort to possibly take [Pearman's] life," Evans said. "Obviously setting the trial dates is still going to be a contested issue and what order they are going to be set."
Both attorneys agreed to return to court next Friday to set trial dates for both the aggravated child abuse charge and the first degree murder charge.