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Grand Jury convened in Hampton murder

The felony murder case of Jennifer Lee Hampton will face review by the Grand Jury.

Assistant District Attorney General Phil Morton presented General Sessions Court Judge Andrew Jackson VI with evidence to send the case to the jury for review Friday, Oct. 10.

Morton sent Rosa Rodriquez Hernandez, the girlfriend of Valentino Vasquez Miranda, Hampton’s alleged killer, to the stand.

Hernandez related the events of the night of Sept. 20, the night 21-year-old waitress Hampton disappeared from her hotel room at the Day’s Inn off Lovell Road.

According to Hernandez’s testimony, Miranda left the room they shared at the Day’s Inn around 4 a.m., Sept. 20.

He took their keys, including a master key Morton alleged Miranda used to open Hampton’s door.

Morton also alleged Miranda beat Hampton with such force he broke her tooth, raped and strangled her and then dumped her body in Melton Hill Lake, where it was found a week later.

Miranda, Hernandez and another Day’s Inn employee, Rogelio Melchor, are illegal aliens. Melchor and Miranda were arrested Sept. 20 for forged identification documents.

That same day, Hernandez took Miranda’s blood- and semen-stained clothing to the Knoxville Police Department, where it was turned in to Investigator Steve Still.

At the Oct. 10 hearing, Morton revealed DNA testing linked semen stains on Hampton’s pants to Miranda. Bloodstains on Miranda’s clothing matched Hampton.

KPD also recovered skin scrapings under Hampton’s fingernails that were a match to Miranda.

Defense attorney Joseph Fandazz did not mount a counter-argument; noting only scant evidence was needed to win grand jury review.

He did question the whereabouts of Melchor, who claimed to have gone to a dance around 3 a.m., Sept. 20. Melchor has not been charged in connection with the murder.

Jackson bound the case over to a grand jury.

The grand jury will hear the case and return a “true bill or not true bill,” Janice Norman, deputy clerk for Criminal Sessions court said.

If Miranda is indicted, a court date will be set.


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