By Max Hrenda
On his day in court to face two solicitation charges, a former U.S. Senate candidate elected to forego a trial.
On Monday morning at the George Jaynes Justice Center in Washington County, Thomas Kenneth “T.K.” Owens entered an Alford plea to charges of solicitation of a minor and solicitation to commit first-degree murder.
The solicitation of a minor charge stemmed from the mother of a 7-year-old Carter County child’s claim that, on May 31, 2011, Owens invited her daughter into his house and exposed himself to her. More than two years later, on Aug. 23, 2013, in Washington County, Owens was charged with solicitation to commit first-degree murder after an informant for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said Owens gave him a down payment of $500 to kill his uncle, Ernie Widby, who works as a bailiff for Carter County Criminal Court.
Unlike a guilty plea, an Alford plea is made when a defendant does not admit committing the acts alleged in the charge lodged against him or her, but believes that sufficient evidence exists that a judge or jury would find him or her guilty in a trial.