A New Tazewell couple charged in the death of a man they were supposed to be caring for entered pleas of not guilty in Criminal Court on Monday.
Sharon Smith, 43, and Johnny Monday Rhodes, 33, were arrested in July and charged with first-degree murder as well as the physical abuse and gross neglect of an impaired adult.
After Arville Rhodes, 63, died on Nov. 22, 2011, police launched an investigation into his death. He died of dehydration, starvation, bilateral bronchopneumonia and multiple decubitus ulcers. He also had blunt trauma to the head, according to investigators.
The couple had power of attorney for and were caretakers of Rhodes, according to New Tazewell Police Det. Wayne Mewhinney. Rhodes, who had been physically and mentally disabled since childhood, was the uncle of Johnny Rhodes.
The investigation took quite some time because the autopsy results did not come back until the end of February 2012, and investigators had to get subpoenas for many of the records as well as conduct interviews with several people, Det. Mewhinney said.
Smith and Rhodes were assigned public defenders during Monday’s arraignment. Both remain in the Claiborne County Jail on a $250,000 bond. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 17.