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Murder on the Mountain: Is another innocent man in jail for a murder he didn't commit?

Foliage on Roan Mountain (Photo: FOX 17 News)
Foliage on Roan Mountain (Photo: FOX 17 News)
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New York crime blogger D. K. Sale, who uncovered the Adam Braseel wrongful conviction, has found another questionable case in the same Middle Tennessee County.

Wayne Grimes was a county commissioner, a volunteer fireman and a local contractor with no criminal record.

FOX 17 News interviewed four witnesses whose powerful testimonies were not used in the trial. Is there yet another innocent man on the mountain falsely convicted?

In 1998, Doyle Pressley was found shot in a deer stand in the woods in Grundy County. His wife Sharon Pressley said she had dropped him off to go deer hunting in the pre-dawn morning that December.

D. K. Sale says you must start with this strange crime scene.

“There immediately became questions. Though he was found without the vest, he always wore that. Everybody knew he wore this orange vest, he didn’t have a flashlight and Sharon Pressley says she dropped him off at 6 a.m. and in December its pitch black until 7 in the morning,” said Sale.

The prosecution said he was shot in the dark in the deer stand deep in the woods. Although he had lost lots of blood, there was very little blood on the scene. At least begging the question, was he shot somewhere else and then brought here?

The case went cold and Pressley’s wife did not make a statement until seven months later with a lawyer present.

Someone did come forward immediately, Pressley’s friend Wayne Grimes. Grimes said he had talked to Pressley the night before and Pressley said he was going shopping in Nashville the next morning, and mentioned nothing about deer hunting.

This was out of the ordinary because Pressley talked about deer hunting all the time.

Grimes remembers it clearly during a prison phone call with FOX 17 News.

“They were going to go to Nashville the next morning and do some Christmas shopping and go by and see his foster mother,” said Grimes.

It appears no one checked out that story, so FOX 17 News went and found his foster mother Heidi Wiliams in Nashville.

Williams confirms that Doyle Pressley was coming to visit her the day he was murdered and mentioned nothing about cancelling the trip to go deer hunting.

FOX 17 News asked Mrs. Williams directly: “Just so I understand, he called and said, I will be there tomorrow?"

Williams answered, “Yes."

Dennis Ferrier: "And he never showed up, right?”

“We were kind of worried, didn't know if he had a car wreck or whatever happened. We just didn’t know and that was unlike him. To tell you I’m coming to see you and he just doesn’t show up and go hunting, he would have called and said I’m not going to be there, I’m going hunting or I won’t be there yeah,” said Williams.

Doyle Pressley loved his foster parents who were there for him when no one else was. They say he would have never stood them up like that.

This corroborates Wayne Grimes' story as well, but it is Grimes who was convicted of murdering Doyle Pressley.

Sharon Pressley eventually told the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) that Grimes told her he shot her husband.

There was no physical evidence. Why did she say this seven months later?

Maybe because Sharon Pressley was under pressure.

In a leaked case update memo from TBI agent Larry Davis: “I told Pressley that I felt that I have enough evidence to indict her for First Degree murder. I told her the (DA) is willing to make a deal if she would testify against Wayne Grimes.”

It is unknown what TBI had against her, but FOX 17 News does know another witness who was not allowed to testify because of family connections.

This witness said Sharon Pressley hated her husband because he admitted to raping their daughter.

“She said I’m going to kill him, she just came out point blank and said I’m going to kill him, I’m not going to let that happen again and he’s not going to do that to my granddaughters,” said Carolyn Grimes.

And then there is the convenience store clerk who never told his story. The day of the murder, he says Sharon Pressley walked into his store with a strange purchase: 3 gallons of bleach, and she wanted more.

“And she asked me if we had more bleach, and it was 3 gallons, I have never had anyone ask for so much bleach,” Billy Ray Griffith recalls.

There is something else to consider. As a county commissioner, Wayne Grimes had butted heads with the now late sheriff and accused him of looking the other way during the county’s meth epidemic.

In fact, Grimes was instrumental in keeping local police departments from being absorbed by the sheriff.

“All I’ve ever done is work and try to help people, I never bothered anybody. If you told me I would be in prison some day, I would have said you are crazy?” said Grimes.

Grimes was sentenced to life in prison with zero material evidence.

He was sentenced to life in prison by the statement of a woman who was being threatened by the TBI.

And a statement from his own wife, who he was divorcing, who said he chopped up a pair of shoes and threw them in a creek.

But here’s the thing, one last witness who never told their story. The Grimes child who says he heard his mother threatening his dad.

“I heard her say in some of her arguments that if Daddy divorced her, she and Larry Davis and Sharon Pressley would make sure and put him away for the murder of Doyle Pressley. And I have heard him say, it’s a lie and you know it, and she said I don’t care I will say it anyway,” said John Grimes.

Four powerful witnesses finally heard, 23 years after the murder.

“It pulls at me. I lose sleep at night. Why is this guy in prison. How do we get him out? Its not fair,” said Pressley.

By the way Wayne Grimes was prosecuted by the same prosecutor who prosecuted Adam Braseel who has been exoneratated and also apologized to by his judge and Governor Lee.

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