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Knoxville News Sentinel
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 13, 2011 at 7 p.m.
A man who once sought to blame, in part, an antidepressant for leading him to kill his sleeping brother has now accepted legal responsibility for the slaying.
James Thomas Huddleston, 42, pleaded guilty last week in Knox County Criminal Court to second-degree murder in the May 2007 shooting death of his brother, Lawrence Huddleston.
James Huddleston had faced a first-degree murder charge. But as part of a plea deal brokered between defense attorney Tom Slaughter and prosecutor Jason Hunnicutt, the charge was downgraded in return for James Huddleston agreeing to serve a 35-year prison term a decade more than he normally would have faced for second-degree murder.
Huddleston, then 38, was staying at his elder brother’s Highland Drive home when he inexplicably opened fire inside his brother’s bedroom. Lawrence Huddleston was in bed asleep with his wife and their 2-year-old son at the time. The wife and toddler escaped injury, but Lawrence Huddleston was struck by bullets 18 times.
Lawrence Huddleston’s wife fought with her brother-in-law and managed to push him down a flight of stairs and out the front door, according to police. She then barricaded herself and her son inside the house until police arrived.
In a motion filed by Slaughter, James Huddleston sought to use an expert to explore whether his use of Paxil, an antidepressant, could have caused “psychological instability” that led to the shooting.
“The defendant was prescribed Paxil while he was suffering from alcoholism and subsequently shot and killed his brother,” Slaughter wrote.
© 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.