Carter County teen gets 13 years for stabbings

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Carter County teen charged as an adult in connection with a 2012 stabbing that left one teenager dead and another seriously injured was sentenced to 13 years as part of a plea agreement.
Nicholas Wade Willen, 16, pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter and one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter before Judge Stacy Street in Criminal Court Friday. Willen originally faced charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, but those charges were reduced as part of the plea agreement.
The charges against Willen stem from an investigation that started Dec. 16, 2012, when police were called to a home on Cash Hollow Road shortly after 3 a.m. on a report of a stabbing. When officers arrived on the scene, they found two teenage boys who were suffering from stab wounds to their chests and abdomens.
Both of the injured teenagers were taken to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. One of the boys, Elijah McKinney, 16, died as a result of his injuries. Then-sheriff Chris Mathes said McKinney had wounds to his abdomen and chest, one of which pierced his heart. The other injured teen, whose identity was not released, suffered a serious wound to his sternum area but survived.
After Willen’s arrest in 2012, Mathes said the investigation revealed five teenagers, including Willen, McKinney and the other injured teen, had been drinking alcohol at a party at the home on Cash Hollow Road when a fight broke out. During the fight, Mathes said Willen, who was 14 at the time, pulled out a knife and stabbed McKinney and the other injured teen.
According to police, Willen and his 16-year-old cousin then fled the scene but were later found at the home of a relative on the Milligan Highway.
Willen originally was charged as a juvenile, but due to the serious nature of the charges, the District Attorney’s Office requested he be tried as an adult. After a hearing in Juvenile Court on Aug. 16, 2013, Willen was bound over to Criminal Court, where he was to be tried as an adult.
Under the plea agreement, Willen was sentenced to 13 years, 6 months on the count of voluntary manslaughter and 10 years, 6 months on the count of attempted voluntary manslaughter with the two sentences to run concurrently. Willen was classified as a “mitigated” offender and will have to serve 20 percent of his sentence before he could become eligible for parole.
Willen’s plea was entered before the court Friday, but according a memorandum of understanding filed in the case, the agreement was reached Nov. 5. That memorandum, signed by Assistant District Attorney Janet Hardin, said that pursuant to the agreement and in consideration of Willen entering a plea of guilty, “the District Attorney’s Office agrees that it will not in any way, by word or deed, take any future action whatsoever in opposition to the parole of the defendant Nicholas Willen.”

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