EXCLUSIVE|UPDATE; Sentencing Hearing In The Capital Murder Trial Of Vennie Leroy Keaton To Continue Tuesday Morning

Testimony in the Sentencing Hearing of Vinnie Leroy Keaton began on Monday in Cherokee County Circuit Court.

Keaton has been charged with Capital Murder for the 2012 slaying of 32 year old Melissa Leann Hudgins – both she and Keaton worked together at Gadsden State Cherokee in Centre for an Anniston based contractor who provided cleaning services at the facility.

Hudgins body was found in a Mechanical Room under the bleachers of the colleges Arena at around 9:00 am on the morning of November 28 of 2012.

During opening statements presented by the State, Deputy District Attorney Bob Johnston shared that Hudgins was found with a garbage bag over her head and her hands bound behind her back – she had also been severely beaten and strangled.

According to Testimony by Investigator Josh Summerford with the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office, the State Medical Examiners report showed the cause of death to be Ligature Strangulation – where as the suspect used the draw string from the hoodie the victim was wearing to strangle her to death and afterwards place a garbage bag over her head and bound her hands behind her back.

Additional testimony revealed that this was not the first time Keaton had been involved in a case involving females where he assaulted them and then tried to take their car – according to Investigator Summerford Keaton was arrested in 1995 in Putnam County, Tennessee after assaulting a female in a Wal-Mart parking lot and again in 1998 after he strangled a Jail Staff Member at the Putnam County Jail and tried to take her car.

Keaton’s Gadsden State ID Card, along with Hudgins debit card and cell phone were found in her car where it had been abandoned in Dunlap, Tennessee back on November 30th of 2012.

He was arrested by U.S Marshals after he was found hiding in an abandoned ambulance at a junkyard in Cookeville, Tennessee on November 30th of 2012 where he was extradited back to Cherokee County.

He pled guilty to killing Hudgins back in February of this year and was ordered by the State to pay $50,000 in restitution.

The Prosecution is recommending a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole – the trial will resume at 9:00 am Tuesday in the Cherokee County Courtroom.

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