(The following press release was issued on Tuesday, December 5 by District Attorney General Jason L. Lawson.)
A Gordonsville woman has pleaded guilty to the 2021 murder of a South Carthage man. Tara Greene, 36, pleaded guilty to the offense of second degree murder in the death of Wendell Bennett occurring on February 26, 2021. As a result of the plea, Greene will serve 30 years at 100% in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Greene has been in custody since the date of the murder.
Deputies of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office responded to 80 Thompson Hollow Road in Smith County on the morning of February 26, 2021, to find Wendell Bennett deceased from a shotgun blast to the shoulder. Eyewitnesses at the residence reported that the shooter was Greene, who had fled the residence in Bennett’s truck. Greene was apprehended minutes later by Smith County Deputy Jimmy Lankford and taken into custody. At the request of Smith County Sheriff Steve Hopper, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation responded to the crime scene and processed the scene for evidence and conducted interviews of Greene. Based on the investigation, drug impairment was a factor in Greene’s decision to shoot Bennett.
The case was set for trial the first week of December, but days before the trial began the attorneys announced that a plea agreement had been reached where Green would plead guilty to an enhanced second-degree murder and receive a sentence of 30 years without parole.
“On the last Sunday afternoon in November, I met with Mr. Bennett’s family at the Carthage DA’s office,” said Jason Lawson, District Attorney. “We went over all of the proof in the case, discussed the arguments that would be presented at trial by both the State and the defense, and discussed the law that the judge would charge the jury. At the conclusion of those conversations, the family along with myself decided that the 30 year sentence was an appropriate sentence in the case.”
Given that the judge was sitting in Wilson County during that week, Greene was transported to Wilson County where she entered her plea the following Tuesday.
“I want to say thank you to a number of people who made this result possible,” said Lawson. “First, the family of Mr. Bennett, who attended all of the court dates and worked with the prosecution to ensure justice was done. Also, this case could not have been successful without the excellent police work of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. Although the defendant had fled the scene in a vehicle, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office set forth communications and a plan that had the defendant apprehended within thirty minutes in a traffic stop. Finally, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s valuable contributions to our community is not recognized enough. On this and many other cases, when the Sheriff and I request the help of the TBI they are always quick to respond and conduct the most thorough and professional police investigations that would rival any police force anywhere. I am eternally grateful for the work of the TBI and Sheriff’s department in solving the cases and collecting evidence that make the cases prosecutable by my office.”
Greene will now be transferred to the Tennessee Prison for Women where she will serve out her sentence.
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