Board denies parole for woman convicted in 1993 murder

Published 5:52 pm Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A woman convicted of a 1993 murder in Carter County will not be getting released from prison anytime soon after her request for parole was denied.

On Wednesday afternoon Melissa McDonald, Communications Director for the Tennessee Board of Parole confirmed the Board denied parole to Donna J. Sexton, 46, who is currently serving a life sentence following her conviction on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.

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“The decision was to decline parole, and to review the case again in six years (2023),” McDonald said of the Board’s decision.

There are seven members of the Tennessee Board of Parole and the denial or granting of parole requires at least four members of the Board to concur in their votes.

The Board held a parole hearing for Sexton on Oct. 4. Because of the seriousness of her convicted charges, a Board member conducted the hearing rather than a hearing officer with the agency. At the end of that hearing, the presiding Board member cast their vote to decline Sexton’s request for parole and review her case again in six years.

The case file was then forwarded to the other six Board members for their review and votes.

Sexton is serving a life sentence in the Tennessee Department of Corrections after entering a “no contest” plea to charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the death of Angela June Whitehead Montgomery and robbing of the Valley Forge Market. At the time of Montgomery’s death, individuals sentenced to life imprisonment were eligible for parole consideration after serving 36 years.

Since being sentenced, Sexton has earned 4,032 days of sentence reduction credits through programs and behavior according to Robert Reburn, East Tennessee Region Public Information Officer for TDOC. Those credits moved her initial parole eligibility date from June 2029 to December 2017.

Sexton’s co-defendant in the case, William “Matney” Putman, entered a guilty plea to charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and was sentenced to life in prison. At the time of the robbery and murder, Putman was already on parole for previous convictions. His parole in that case was revoked, and he had to serve that sentence before beginning his sentence for murder and robbery. His current parole eligibility date is 2029.

Montgomery, who was 34 at the time of her death, was closing the store for the night on June 14, 1993, when Sexton and Putman arrived and robbed the store.

Ken Potter, who was Chief Deputy at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department at the time of the murder investigated the case. He described the murder of Montgomery as “a gruesome, heinous, and atrocious crime.”

According to Potter, robbery was the motive behind the crime. He said Putman confessed to the crime during an interview with investigators and said when he entered the store Montgomery recognized him and that is why he killed her.

Putman committed the murder, Potter said, but Sexton was charged as an accomplice in the crime.

“Donna drove the car, entered the store, and was present during the murder,” Potter said. “She did not physically take part in the killing, but she was with Matney and drove them away.”