District Attorney

Russell Johnson

Serving Loudon, Meigs, Morgan and Roane County | Tennessee

Both of Gen. Russell Johnson’s parents, Lawrence and Dr. Martha Russell Johnson, were teachers and instilled in him an interest in history and political science from an early age. He was inspired to become a lawyer by his maternal uncle, William Russell, who was both a lawyer and involved with politics. During his late high school career at Lebanon (Va.) High School, Gen. Johnson had the opportunity to follow around a local attorney named Randy Campbell for half a day, once a week. There he was able to watch his first criminal jury trial – a “whisper stop” drug case.

Gen. Johnson stayed focused on being accepted to law school throughout his undergrad at Auburn University. Upon graduation from the University of Tennessee College of Law and passing the bar exam, Gen. Johnson started an independent practice in Loudon County, Tenn. When presented with the opportunity to run for the Tennessee General Assembly in 2000, he took it and served in the Tennessee House of Representatives for three terms.

Victim Services

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Assistant District Attorneys

Bob Edwards

Assistant District Attorney
Criminal Court Supervisor

Lee Aikens

Assistant District Attorney
General Sessions Court Supervisor

Kristin Curtis

Assistant District Attorney
Meigs & Roane County Drug Prosecutor

Joe Caldwell

Assistant District Attorney
9th Judicial District DUI & Vehicular Homicides Prosecutor

Anthony Rogers

Assistant District Attorney
General Sessions/Juvenile Courts

Jed Bassett

Assistant District Attorney
Loudon & Meigs Criminal Court Prosecutor & Child Abuse Prosecutor

Jonathan Edwards

Assistant District Attorney
Morgan & Roane County Criminal Court Prosecutor & Child Abuse Prosecutor

Jason Collver

Assistant District Attorney
Loudon & Morgan County Drug Prosecutor

Kelly Ingle

Assistant District Attorney
General Sessions/Juvenile Courts

Donovan Whiteside

Assistant District Attorney
Criminal/General Sessions

Marla Holloway

Assistant District Attorney
General Sessions/Juvenile Courts


 Tina Jarnagin

Grand Jury Coordinator
Assistant to the ADAs

Karen Joseph

Drug Unit
Assistant to the ADAs

Chris Rodems

Discovery & Case Management
Assistant to the ADAs

Abbie Vibbert

Drug Task Force
Assistant to the ADAs

Charlene Hipsher

Grant Coordinator

Cortney Dugger

ICAC Investigator

Chanel Finnell

Criminal Investigator

News/Press Releases

Facebook Posts

James Lance (21 YOM, of Hunt Coppenger Lane, Tellico Plains, TN) pled guilty on Friday to Aggravated Child Abuse, a Class A felony with a sentence range of 15 to 25 years under Tennessee sentencing law. Upon taking the guilty plea, Meigs County Criminal Court Judge Jeff Wicks sentenced Lance to 20 years in prison. Lance has been in custody at the Meigs County Jail since his arrest on January 25, 2023.This serious charge stems from an investigation conducted by the Decatur Police Department and 9th DAG ICAC Investigators Cortney Dugger and Chanel Finnel into allegations that Lance (who has since had his parental rights taken from him) abused his one-month-old son who was in the custody of the child’s mother. The child's mother had been noticing injuries to the baby's legs and set up a surveillance camera in her home to monitor what Lance did while he was responsible for the baby's care when the mother was a work. The video monitor revealed Lance striking and otherwise abusing his young child which horrific abuse resulted in injuries including broken ribs and significant bruising. The child has fortunately recovered from his injuries and is doing well by all accounts and is in the custody of adoptive parents. Assistant District Attorney Jed Bassett prosecuted this case for 9th District Attorney General Russell Johnson’s Office. The Defendant was represented by Madisonville attorney Steve Ward. ... See MoreSee Less
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TRUCK DRIVER WHO KILLED LOUDON COUNTY SHERIFF’S SGT. CHRIS JENKINS PLEADS GUILTY TO VEHICULAR HOMICIDE BY INTOXICATION AND RECEIVES TEN YEAR PRISON SENTENCEChristopher Savannah (a 43 YOM) from Houston, Texas, was the driver of a Freightliner tractor-trailer that killed Loudon County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Jenkins on I-75 on the morning of February 3, 2022, at approximately 8 am. Savannah, who admitted to smoking marijuana before and while driving his rig, was determined at the scene through standardized field sobriety tests, and later by testing of a sample of his blood, to have been under the influence of marijuana when Savannah failed to stop his rig during a rolling roadblock that was being conducted by Sgt. Jenkins so that Jenkins could stop and remove an extension ladder from the middle of the northbound interstate lanes. The Plea Agreement and HearingSavannah pled guilty today [Wednesday] at the Roane County Courthouse in front of Criminal Court Judge Jeff Wicks. The plea was an agreed upon sentence of ten years to serve in TDOC custody on a Class B felony of Vehicular Homicide by Intoxication [for the death of Jenkins], along with the two charges of Felony Reckless Endangerment, Class E felonies [for two other occupied vehicles he also struck], and multiple commercial motor carrier violations. It should be noted that Savannah has been in custody at the Roane County Jail since he was originally charged the day of the incident. Savannah has no prior criminal history and under Tennessee’s vehicular homicide law at the time that Sgt. Jenkins was killed, the sentence range for vehicular homicide starts at eight years, so this agreement adds two years to that sentence. This plea offer was made at the request of Chris Jenkins’ son, LCSO Narcotics Detective Clay Jenkins, and the plea agreement confirmed with the family members who are all glad to have a resolution to this case and are now able to put this behind them to relieve them of the stress and emotion of a jury trial which is now set for 2024. Jenkins’ Death Led to Changes in the Law Since Jenkins’ death the Tennessee Legislature has elevated vehicular homicide punishments by increasing the mandatory service time to 100% (or 85% with good behavior). The circumstances of Jenkins’ death by a driver under the influence of marijuana helped this effort. Also, the Legislature made it a requirement to have items like ladders properly secured in the back of a pickup truck or trailer with it now being a Class A misdemeanor TCA 55-7-119 to leave these items unsecured. This law was passed and is known as The Sergeant Chris Jenkins Law. [Former state trooper/State Representative Lowell Russell sponsored and passed this law along with Senator Becky Massey and Lt. Governor Randy McNally]. NOTE – THP Dan Morton and 9th DTF Deputy Director Brendan Deboer were able, after several days of investigation following leads, determine the driver of the pickup from which the ladder came out to initiate this incident. That driver was charged and convicted on three counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.February 3rd, 2022, and the Effort to Get the Scene Investigation Conducted According to ‘The Textbook’Just before 8 am that February morning there were reports to 911 from other drivers that the ladder was causing vehicles to swerve with at least two or three vehicles striking or even running over a ladder. Sgt. Jenkins, who was driving his police cruiser on Highway 72 with his K-9 Deja in the backseat compartment, volunteered to undertake the task of removing the ladder before it caused anyone to wreck. Jenkins entered I-75 northbound from Highway 72 via the on ramp at Exit 72. He had all lights flashing and maneuvered in front of traffic straddling the center of the two northbound lanes to effectuate a rolling ‘roadblock’, eventually bringing all other traffic in the two lanes behind his cruiser to a stop near the 74-mile marker. Jenkins pulled over to the right-hand shoulder, stopped and was exiting the cruiser to remove the orange fiberglass, electrician’s extension ladder that was unsecured in the bed of a pickup truck and had fallen out of truck in the middle of the northbound interstate lanes. Savannah, instead of coming to a stop like surrounding traffic, plowed his 78,300 lbs. rig into at least two vehicles in front of him causing one of these vehicles to hit another. As the truck continued through the cars, the Freightliner struck Sgt. Jenkins as Jenkins exited his cruiser causing his immediate death.The incident caused both northbound lanes of I-75 between Loudon and Sugar Limb Road to be closed for the remainder of the long day. Almost every law enforcement officer, firefighter and EMS in Loudon County responded along with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and other surrounding agencies. District Attorney General Russell Johnson and ADA Joe Caldwell also arrived and designated THP to take charge of the scene so that local law enforcement could deal with the grief and devastation of the moment. Sgt. Chris Jenkins was pronounced dead at the scene. Brittany Cook, one of the drivers of a vehicle that was hit, was transported to Fort Loudoun Medical Center for injuries sustained during the crash. Donald McCormick, who was the driver of another impacted vehicle, was observed and treated for any injuries on scene.The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) worked the fatal crash scene along with THP’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Trooper Paul Dubroc performed the initial field sobriety of Savannah at the scene. Savannah would later be taken off scene for further drug recognition field sobriety testing by THP and DRE Expert John Mayes, then a Roane County Sheriff's Detective. THP Sgt. Robert Woody and THP Trooper Matt Armes conducted an inspection of the cab and the entire ‘commercial motor vehicle’. A more extensive post-crash inspection was performed by THP Sgt. Scott Hines. THP Lt. Justin Boyd led the CIRT investigation of the crash scene and performed analysis. Every first responder and law enforcement officer involved in the investigation and prosecution of this horrific crash exemplified professionalism, diligence, and expertise. The investigation was conducted in a manner that could be used as the textbook ‘gold standard’ on how a vehicular homicide case should be handled. The same can be said of ADA Joe The Impact of Chris Jenkins’ Death and His Legacy – Sheriff Tim Guider and Sheriff Jimmy DavisThe entire Loudon County law enforcement and first responder team was gravely impacted by the death of Chris Jenkins, including our office who knew and worked with Chris for decades. The entire Loudon County Community came together to memorialize Sgt. Chris Jenkins and to put their collective arms around Chris’ family and especially his son, Loudon County Sheriff’s Drug Investigator Clay Jenkins, and Chris’ daughter, Chloee Jenkins, a student at Loudon High School. I have known Chris since before I started as the District Attorney and watched him advance through the ranks and become a solid law enforcement officer, a leader among his peers and a K-9 officer.Former Sheriff Tim Guider and former Chief Deputy Sheriff (now current Sheriff) Jimmy Davis spoke at the time and many times afterwards about Chris Jenkins’ legacy to the LCSO and the entire Loudon County Community. Like Sheriff Guider leading so many memorial services and events for Chris during the last year of his tenure, Sheriff Davis has continued keeping his memory alive to provide meaning to and a leadership example for so many newer deputies. Clay, was made a Narcotis Investigator by Sheriff Davis and Clay now is the handler for his father’s K-9 partner, Deja.The Prosecution and Where We Go From HereADA Joe Caldwell headed up the prosecution team which includes ADA Jed Bassett and DUI Unit Coordinator Holly Miller, as well as other ADAs and staff that have played important roles. ADA Caldwell has made this case a priority among his heavy docket of vehicular homicides, vehicular assaults, and DUI cases in all four of our counties. Joe Caldwell and his team have been sensitive to the concerns of the Jenkins family and has worked diligently to keep this case moving and to get it to a point where we have a resolution that has been ‘blessed’ by Clay and Chloee Jenkins and their family members. Any tragic crime like this can never bring complete justice or total closure for the family members of the deceased loved one. This result, however, brings a large measure of justice, it brings some amount of closure and hopefully some long-awaited peace.There is always hope that the prison sentence will give the defendant sufficient time to focus his attention on making a better outcome for his future after prison. Also, by him accepting responsibility for his role and guilt in Chris Jenkins’ death, he has hopefully helped himself and, hopefully the Jenkins family. Attorney Sam Hudson of Dunlap, Tennessee represented Christopher Savannah in this matter.November 15, 2023Russell Johnson, District Attorney General ... See MoreSee Less
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