Knoxville killing may test ‘randomness’ as factor in stiff punishment

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Knoxville stabbing may become the first case to test whether Tennessee juries can impose a death penalty or life without parole because of the “randomness” of the crime.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the attorney for 26-year-old Timothy Ison asked a Knox County Criminal Court judge on Monday to strike down the randomness reason as unconstitutional.

Ison was charged with first-degree murder in the May 2015 slaying of 42-year-old Stefany Fairbanks, who was a stranger to him.

Prosecutors are seeking life without parole for Ison if he’s convicted. They are citing the “random” nature of the stabbing as a justification for the sentence, as allowed by Tennessee law.

Defense attorney Susan Shipley says the legislature included no definitions or guidance on what makes a killing “random.”