George Hyatte pleads guilty to Roane Co. officer’s murder

KINGSTON (WATE) — George Hyatte, the man accused of killing of a corrections officer during an escape from the Roane County Jail in 2005, entered a guilty plea in the case on Monday.

Hyatte received a life sentence without the possibility of parole in exchange for pleading guilty to charges of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and felony escape.

“Originally, we all had been seeking the death penalty, but things don’t always work out the way you want them to. It’s life,” says Dennis Morgan whose father, Wayne “Cotton” Morgan was killed.

“I thought that justice was serviced, but there are some mixed emotions,” says William Shillings, Morgan’s longtime friend.

He continues, “I went to school with him worked with him 30 years. He was a fine man as I ever knew. He was like a brother.”

Also, as part of the plea, court officials have recommended that Hyatte not be housed at Brushy Mountain Correctional Complex, where Morgan worked.

Hyatte was scheduled to be tried in April.

Morgan was shot to death in August 2005 during an escape by Hyatte, who received help from his wife, Jennifer Hyatte.

According to authorities, it was Jennifer who shot Officer Morgan. She pleaded guilty in September 2007 to first degree murder and is now serving her life sentence without parole in a Tennessee prison.

The couple met in prison, where George was serving time and Jennifer worked as a nurse.

“It’ll be four years in August. It’s always hard for me to come down here. It was close to this very spot where everything happened,” Dennis Morgan says.

6 News also spoke Monday with Assistant District Attorney Frank Harvey, who says the state is pleased with the plea deal, although they had just recently filed a death penalty notice.

Harvey says this is what the victim’s family wanted.

“Everyone knows in Tennessee that if a death penalty is carried out it is way, way, way down the road if it ever goes that far. The appeals go on and on. The costs to taxpayers is huge. The cost to the victim’s family is huge, and the cost to our office is huge,” Harvey says.

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