The attorney for Tommy Lee Carroll, the Blount County man serving eight years in prison in the death of bicyclist Jeff Roth, is asking for a new sentencing hearing and wants a new judge to decide that sentence.
On Monday, Carroll’s attorney, Steven B. Ward of Madisonville, filed a motion asking for Judge Mike Meares to recuse himself and asking for a new sentencing hearing. “In support of this motion, the defendant would show information has been received that indicates that Judge Michael Meares had ex parte communication with (Roth’s) widow prior to the defendant’s sentencing hearing.”
Roth’s widow, Kathy Roth, said from Ohio Tuesday the motion for a new sentencing hearing surprised her. ‘It was a chance meeting in the park,” she said of seeing Judge Meares while at a Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation event at Pearson Springs Park this past spring. “I was there with a friend and lots of people were around, and he was engaged in a conversation with a friend. We talked about single parenting and then it was over. I didn’t go to him, and he didn’t come to me. He never asked me to vote for him.”
Kathy Roth said she felt like Tommy Carroll pleaded guilty and accepted an eight-year term. “I think he should just serve it out as the judge ordered,” she said.
Meares could not be reached for comment and did not return a message on Tuesday requesting comment on Carroll’s motion.
Saturday, Aug. 9, is the two-year anniversary of Roth’s death. “I was hoping and sort of felt all this could be put to rest and everything was finalized,” Kathy Roth said. “Now it seems like it’s not again. My kids are doing great, and we’re all doing well, but I was hoping it would be finished.”
Jeff Roth died on Aug. 9, 2006, when he was struck by Carroll’s truck as Roth rode on the shoulder of West Lamar Alexander Parkway near South Old Glory Road.
Carroll’s truck left the scene of the accident and was stopped by another truck that forced him off the road. Roth was pronounced dead at the scene.