By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
With family members of the victim seated in the gallery, one of four men charged in the beating and strangulation murder of Jonathan Ryan Foley was sentenced for his part in Knox County Circuit Court Friday.
Foley was 27 when he disappeared after a trip to the store and was reported missing Nov. 7, 2012, by his father, Charles Foley Jr., of Barbourville.
The victim lived with his father at the time of his disappearance and subsequent murder.
Four days later Foley’s body was recovered off Ed Matlock Place Road in the Trosper Community.
George Marcum, 54, of Trosper, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday by Judge Tom Jensen as per a plea agreement.
“It’s very difficult — it’s hard to sit and look at him like that,” said Jonathan Foley’s mother, Beverly Foley, after the sentencing. “A part of us is gone.”
Jonathan Foley’s brother, Steve Foley, said he felt justice had been served.
“We feel like he (Marcum) knows what happened,” Steve Foley said. “The truth will come out.”
Marcum appeared Friday with his attorney, Barbara Carnes.
According to the plea agreement, Marcum pleaded guilty to two counts on the multi-count indictment against him. Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele said that Marcum pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and facilitation to commit murder — each charge brought a five-year sentence to the table, to be served consecutively.
The latter charge of facilitation to commit murder comes after Marcum pleaded guilty to aiding co-defendants James Wyatt, 35, of Barbourville, and John Christopher Mills, 42, of Trosper, in murdering Foley by providing the means and/or opportunity for the killing, according to the motion to amend the charges.
Part of Marcum’s plea agreement also requires him to testify “truthfully” against the three other defendants in this case — Wyatt, Mills and Lonnie Sturdivant, 28, of Trosper.
Steve Foley said after the sentencing that he and his family expected lengthy court proceedings.
“We knew it was going to be a long process,” he said. “This is just the beginning — there’s one man behind bars.”
Steve Foley added that the family knows justice will be done.
“The Lord will take care of everything,” he said. “He (Marcum) will be held accountable.”
The next step the family must tackle is the trial of the other three defendants in the case — which is slated for March 17.
Barbourville Police Chief Mike Broughton said after the murder that Foley was killed the same day he went missing.
Barbourville Police Detective Steve Owens said surveillance video provided by Knox County Hospital was reviewed after Foley’s father located his son’s 2002 Ford F150 parked at CSC next door.
“There were two Ford trucks (in the surveillance video) matching the description of what we were looking for,” Owens said. They also sought Wyatt’s Ford truck. “The two trucks came in at the same time, leaving Foley’s truck parked there.”
Charles Foley Jr. said when he located the vehicle, it appeared as though it had been “four-wheeling.”
“There was mud and grass underneath,” Foley Jr. said. “...And the bottom was messed up. It looked like it’d been through a garden or a swamp.
“Even the parking lights were jammed up with mud.”
All four suspects in this case were indicted in December 2012. Mills, Marcum and Wyatt were named in the first count of the 11-count indictment, charging the three with beating Foley with a blunt object, then strangling him with a belt.
In the second count of the indictment, the three are charged with first-degree robbery, as a death resulted during the course of committing the robbery against Foley.
The third count indicts all four with tampering with evidence by destroying, mutilating, concealing removing or altering physical evidence which could have been used during an official proceeding.
In counts four and five, Wyatt and Sturdivant are both charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Count six indicts Wyatt, Marcum and Mills on first-degree unlawful imprisonment by allegedly “restraining the liberty” of Foley. The same three are charged in count 7 with abuse of a corpse “by intentionally treating the body of Jonathan Ryan Foley in a way that would outrage ordinary family sensibilities.”
Count 8 charges Wyatt and Sturdivant in possession of a defaced firearm by owning a weapon which had the serial number removed.
Counts 9 and 10 charge Mills and Wyatt with being second-degree persistent felony offenders, and count 11 charges Sturdivant with first-degree persistent felony offender.
All remaining counts of Marcum’s part of the indictment were dismissed Friday — the first count of murder was changed to facilitation to commit murder during plea negotiations.
All three remaining defendants remain in custody.
Other 3 to stand trial March 17
By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
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