Couple charged in Oak Ridge murder could face death penalty

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ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – The death penalty is on the table for the two suspects charged in a gruesome Oak Ridge murder.

Sean Finnegan and Rebecca Dishman both face many charges, including murder, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse. “This seems to be, not just murder, but an especially heinous form of murder. At this point, no decision has been made as to whether or not the state will seek death penalty, but that is a possibility,” Assistant District Attorney General, Brian Gilliam, said in court Tuesday.

Dishman waived her right to appear in-person Tuesday, though her court-appointed attorney spoke on her behalf. He requested her $1 million bond be lowered. He cited the lengthy nature of criminal proceedings of this nature, and her inability to pay the current set amount. “She’s entitled by law to a reasonable bond,” he said.

Gilliam argued against reducing the bond, cited the severity of the accused crimes, a potential risk to public safety, and the probability of conviction.

The request to lower the bond was denied.

Fewer than two weeks ago, investigators discovered the body of 36-year-old Jennifer Paxton at a home on East Fairview Road. Documents say she was tortured, raped and deprived of food and medical care. They also show her body was put in a freezer, with parts of it removed.

While Dishman didn’t appear in court, members of Paxton’s family sat on the front row. Paxton’s cousin, Beverly Jeffers, said “She has children who loved her. Her mother loved her with all her heart. Her grandmother loves her with all her heart. We all love Jennifer. She just needs justice and what they did to her was ungodly and unfair. Nobody deserves it. Nobody.”

Both Finnegan and Dishman are set to be evaluated in the coming weeks. Their next court date is October 27.

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