Toccoa man to appeal Tennessee ruling — (Anderson Independent-Mail)

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Anderson Independent-Mail (SC)

April 15, 2000

Author: Amy Hebert

KINGSTON, Tenn. – A 57-year-old Toccoa man will appeal the first-degree murder conviction handed down this week by an east Tennessee jury for the 1998 shooting of his ex-wife.

They did not believe the argument that James Larry McCurry was too distraught to commit premeditated murder when he drove four hours from Toccoa to walk into his ex-wife’s office and shoot her several times in front of two co-workers.

A Roane County judge sentenced McCurry to life in prison Wednesday night after the jury found him guilty of murdering 48-year-old Brenda McCurry of Kingston, a small town about 60 miles west of Knoxville.

McMurry will not be eligible for parole for at least 51 years, said his defense attorney, Harold Balcom. But Mr. Balcom said Friday that he will begin the appeal process.

“He was obsessed, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” he said. “But he was under sufficient excitement and passion to cloud rational thought.”

McCurry testified in court that he killed his ex-wife because he was afraid their relationship was over.

“I felt like my whole world just caved in on me,” he testified Wednesday. “My world was over as far as anything that mattered to me.”

He said he decided to kill her on Oct. 12, 1998, the day before he drove from his room at the Toccoa Motel to her Kingston office, dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase.

He said that when he went inside, he pulled the pistol from the briefcase and began shooting.

Mr. Balcom said his client was drinking heavily and taking Prozac and would often go into periods of deep depression when the couple would break up.

He said during those times, McCurry would come back to his family in Toccoa but keep trying to get back together with his ex-wife.

This time, McCurry was furious because he had gone bankrupt while she was seeing another man and had gotten a restraining order against him, Mr. Balcom said.

He said Kingston police testified that, after his arrest in Toccoa, McCurry told them: “I loved her more than any other woman. I just wanted to protect her. I know how other men are.”

J.J. Stambaugh of the Knoxville News-Sentinel contributed to this article.