KINGSTON, Tenn. – A prison guard testified Friday that he emptied his revolver and then grabbed his dying partner's gun to try to stop a "Bonnie and Clyde"-style escape by an inmate and his wife. The judge then ordered the couple's murder case to go forward.
At the preliminary hearing, Judge Dennis Humphrey sent charges of first-degree murder against Jennifer and George Hyatte to the grand jury. The hearing was in the Roane County Courthouse (search), where the shootout happened Aug. 9.
George Hyatte (search), handcuffed and shackled, had been at the courthouse for a plea hearing and began to squirm and try to break free as officers returned him to the van, Harris said.
"He is trying to get away, and we are trying to get a hold of him," Harris said. "He hollers, 'Shoot him.' And that is when me and Cotton looked where he was talking and first saw Jennifer."
Jennifer Hyatte was standing in a "shooting stance" with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol pointed at Morgan, Harris testified. Morgan turned toward her.
"I saw his arms go up," Harris said. "I heard him holler, 'No,' and then she shot him. He said, 'Oh,' and he sort of falls."
Morgan, who was not wearing body armor, was fatally shot in the stomach.
"Then she starts pointing towards me and shooting and I was shooting back to her," Harris said.
Harris, the only witness at the hearing, testified that he fired his own gun six times and then took the revolver from Morgan's still-buttoned holster to fire five more times.
One of the bullets struck Jennifer Hyatte in the leg and another shot through her SUV's windshield, but the couple escaped and became the subject of a nationwide search. Harris said one bullet grazed his right arm and a ricocheted bullet fragment blistered his stomach.
Humphrey refused to set bond for Jennifer Hyatte, saying prosecutors were likely to seek the death penalty and she was a flight risk. George Hyatte isn't eligible for bond because he is serving a prison sentence.
"Our condolences to the Morgan family," Humphrey said. "He will always be missed. I'm sorry for your loss and our loss."
Jennifer Hyatte, a former prison nurse who was fired for having a relationship with Hyatte, had no criminal record. They married in May.
The pair surrendered 36 hours later in a motel in Columbus, Ohio. Authorities were tipped off by a cab driver who gave the Hyattes a ride from a Cincinnati suburb in Kentucky. The driver, Mike Wagers, received a $10,000 reward.
After the arrest, authorities discovered Jennifer Hyatte kept a 34-page diary about the crime. She titled it "A Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde," referring to the Depression-era bank robbing lovers, and wrote that Hyatte was the love of her life.
After the hearing, both Hyattes were expected to be returned to separate prisons in Nashville.
Jennifer Hyatte's ex-husband, Eli Gourdin of Smithfield, Utah, is seeking permanent custody of their three children.