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Loveday family: victims again

It’s been more than six years since her son was murdered and robbed, but Pat Loveday relives the events of that day on a regular basis.

Parole hearings for two of the four men involved in the slaying of 20-year-old Robert Scott Loveday remind her of that day in Aug. 24, 1997.

“It upsets me, the kids and my mother,” Pat said. “You’re victimized again. You relive the whole thing. You lose sleep the night before and it refreshes all the hard memories.”

Loveday can still recount vividly the phone call from the University of Tennessee Hospital concerning her son.

“They told me there had been an incident,” she said. “I thought he may have wrecked his car or something.”

On her way to the hospital, Loveday passed by the now former site of Cone Oil Co., at the intersection of Kingston Pike and Lovell Road, where Scott was shot twice in the chest.

“The area was blocked off and I thought ‘something bad happened there,’” she said.

Her son had stopped at the convenience store earlier to use the payphone when he was confronted by Anthony Tyler “T-Bone” Jones, David Michael Jones, no relation, Earnest Leon Rodgers, 14-years-old at the time, and James A. Mellon.

The Tennessee Supreme Court noted Mellon initially pointed the gun at Loveday and demanded money before Anthony Jones took the gun and fired two shots into Loveday’s chest.

The slaying netted the foursome one dollar and a watch.

“That was a horrendous act for one dollar and a watch,” Loveday said. “Scott gave what he had then he gave his life.”

Anthony Jones pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in June 2001 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

David Michael Jones and Rodgers entered plea agreements that netted them 40-year sentences.

Loveday attends their parole hearings because she wants to make sure they stay in jail because “there is not truth in sentencing,” she said.

“They are really not serving 40 years because they get time off for good behavior,” Loveday said. “They could only serve one-third of that time. The only thing that is true-to-form is life without parole.”

Mellon’s sentence is in limbo since his death sentence was overturned by the state Supreme Court Oct. 30.

The state’s highest court ruled that Mellon was not fully informed of the consequences of his decision to renege on a plea deal that would have landed him in jail for life.

Mellon initially pleaded guilty to felony murder in 1998 and would have received life without the possibility of parole. The deal was offered to him by the Knox County District Attorney’s Office under a condition that he testify against the other three involved.

Mellon backed out of the agreement a few months later saying he was afraid of being labeled a “snitch” in prison. He asked to withdraw his guilty plea, which was refused by Criminal Court Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz.

She ruled Mellon was fully aware he had to testify to receive the benefits of the plea deal.

Leibowitz impaneled a jury to decide Mellon’s fate and in March 1999 the jury sentenced him to die. But, the state Supreme Court ruled Leibowitz did not clearly state to Mellon that he could face death if he pulled out on the deal.

Loveday said Mellon “did not deserve the ultimate sentence when the shooter didn’t get it,” but she is surprised “they overturned the whole thing.”

“They should have overturned the sentence, not the whole thing,” she said. “Now we’re back at square one.”

Knox County Attorney General Randy Nichols agrees saying he “found it very odd” that Mellon was not fully aware of the plea deal.

“He made that agreement to avoid the electric chair,” he said.

Nichols added that the decision might be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

“I favor an appeal,” he said. “I personally think it was the wrong decision.”

If an appeal is not made “then we’re back at zero and the options are wide open,” Nichols added.

Loveday said the whole experience has been “eye-opening as far as the judicial system and how it doesn’t work.”

“You learn in civics class about how it is supposed to work and it doesn’t,” she said.

“We’ve made it so complicated,” Nichols said concerning the Mellon case, “that is why people don’t have faith in the system.”

When Mellon’s case is settled, Pat said she still would not have closure.

“There is really not closure for years to come,” she said. “Rodgers will have a parole hearing in April 2005.”

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