Man convicted 13 years ago for killing wife with skillet gets new trial

Convicted murderer gets new trial
He was convicted 13 years ago and sent to death row, but now he is now getting a new trial. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
He was convicted 13 years ago and sent to death row, but now he is now getting a new trial. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
But neighbor Rosie Sharp can't forget what happened on January 21, 1999 at 1011 Joseph Place, which is now an empty lot. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
But neighbor Rosie Sharp can't forget what happened on January 21, 1999 at 1011 Joseph Place, which is now an empty lot. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - It was a shocking crime and a startling confession when a Mid-South man admitted to killing his wife with a kitchen skillet.

He was convicted 13 years ago and sent to death row, but now he is getting a new trial.

It's all been overturned by an appeals court that ruled his jury was tainted by a forewoman who herself had been a victim of domestic violence.

But neighbor Rosie Sharp can't forget what happened on January 21, 1999 at 1011 Joseph Place, which is now an empty lot.

"I remember it just like it was yesterday," neighbor Rosie Sharp said. "She was a good lady, and I liked her and her children. And we got along good. Never did have no cross words no kind of way."

Shirley Faulkner was beaten to death by her husband, Robert Faulkner. He was seen in court for an appeals hearing in 2011 after turning himself in to police.

He told the court his well known nickname, "Skillet," then grinned and added, "that's what I hit her with too."

A jury convicted him and sentenced him to death.

On August 29, 2014, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction and awarded him a new trial based primarily on the fact that the jury forewoman never disclosed to the court that she had been a victim of domestic violence, even after being specifically asked on a questionnaire and in person.

The court's opinion reads:

"Our system cannot tolerate a trial with a tainted juror regardless of the strength of evidence against the defendant. We conclude that the Petitioner was denied the right to a jury that was fair and impartial."

Faulkner's attorneys say that right is "... the bedrock principle of the state and federal constitutions and the American judicial system."

"I don't understand," Sharp said. "Why is they giving him another trial and he already 'fessed? He must got a mojo hand or some king of hand for them to change it like that."

Sharp says she wonders if justice will ever be served.

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