UPDATE: Hollingsworth sentenced to 22 years after killing wife
UPDATE: A Chattanooga cold case is now closed.
Judge Rebecca Stern sentenced Adolphus Hollingsworth to 22 years behind bars for killing his wife, Vicki Carr, 17 years ago.
The case sat unsolved for 16 years until Hollingsworth was convicted for the crime earlier this year.
Under state law, Hollingsworth could have received as little as 15 years or as much as 25 years behind bars. Instead, Hollingsworth will serve three years less than the maximum sentence the district attorney pushed for him to serve.
In a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes, Judge Stern ordered Hollingsworth to serve 100-percent of the sentence.
“I don't have to wonder anymore, is he going to get sentenced, are they going to do this or do that. I know they've got him and he isn't going anywhere for a while,” Vicki Carr's brother Kennith Witherspoon said.
Witherspoon waited 17 years to learn the fate of his sister's killer.
“After 17 years, to see this thing come to an end. At the end of the day, I've got closure,” he added.
Carr was stabbed to death in 1997. Her body was found two years later. After that, her case went cold and sat that way for 16 years. Until a jury found her estranged husband, Adolphus Hollingsworth, guilty of 2nd degree murder in January.
District Attorney Neal Pinkston says he's happy with the sentence handed down by Judge Stern.
“It's supported by the law and the facts and it gives him the punishment he deserves,” Pinkston added.
Hollingsworth's attorney, Bill Speak, tells Channel 3 he expected the judge to rule the way she did and he is currently working on an appeal.
Witherspoon is glad to finally have closure and wants his sister to be remembered for the beautiful woman that she was and not for what happened to her.
“She was who she was, a nice young lady, a good mother. A great mother who didn't get a chance to raise her kids,” he said.
Speak says he will appeal Hollingsworth's conviction.
Judge Stern set a tentative date of June 1st for a new trial motion to be filed.
PREVIOUS STORY: The man on trial for his wife's 1997 stabbing death was found guilty of second degree murder on Friday. Adolphus Hollingsworth faces 15-25 years in prison.
The case had been long-solved in investigators' minds. But Friday's guilty verdict finally closed Vicki Carr Hollingsworth's case, which was cold for 16 years. The 28-year-old mother of two would have been celebrating her 46th birthday later this month.
It took the sequestered jury nearly eleven hours -- all day Thursday and around 90 minutes the next morning -- to reach a verdict.
Hollingsworth's demeanor never changed throughout the trial: silent and stoic, even as he learned his fate.
Clapping and cheering resulted in two of Vicki's family members getting kicked out of the courtroom.
"That's fine. He's guilty," Dakeye Carr told court officers as she left the room.
Carr said there's finally justice for her aunt after a 17 year-long wait.
"Whatever he gets, that's what he deserves," she said.
"I thank God that is one man behind bars who can't hurt another woman," said Veronica Hannah, Vicki's biological mother. Although she was adopted, Vicki had a relationship with Hannah since age 12.
KC Witherspoon said he never doubted Hollingsworth killed his sister back in 1997.
"I know it was him from the beginning," Witherspoon said. "I just wish my mother was here to see it."
Vicki's adopted mother died before Hollingsworth was arrested last January, when the case was featured on the show 'Cold Justice'.
"She passed away of heartbreak and no closure," said Witherspoon.
"Whatever closure is for them, I'm glad they can finally achieve that," said Chattanooga Police Sgt. Bill Phillips, who worked Vicki's murder from the beginning.
She was supposed to take Hollingsworth to work the morning she disappeared. Brush from his yard was lodged in her bumper, even though it was parked in her driveway. Hollingsworth also bought a new truck on the same day his estranged wife went missing.
It was a case that relied heavily on circumstantial evidence.
"It just was a struggle to get this thing into the court," Phillips said.
But Friday's conviction is good news for the DA's office new Cold Case Unit, whose team is working to bring the killers in other long-unsolved cases to justice.
"We've just got to keep after it, and it can be done," said District Attorney General Neal Pinkston.
"They know the answers in heaven and they're lookin' down smiling," Witherspoon said about his mom and sister. "I can just say, 'Yay, Victoria!"
Hollingsworth is scheduled to be sentenced on March 30.
PREVIOUS STORY: The jury for the Adolphus Hollingsworth trial will be sequestered Thursday night after not reaching a verdict following nine hours of deliberation.
The jury began deliberating at 9:15 Thursday morning. They have two full days of evidence to consider and this case has been one that's relied heavily on circumstantial evidence.
For example, Vicki was supposed to pick up Hollingsworth for work the morning she went missing. Brush lodged in Vicki's car's exhaust pipe matched a bush that was run over in Hollingsworth's yard. Vicki was gone, but her car was at home. It was parked in the driveway of her parents' home where Vicki was staying with her young kids at the time.
Additionally on the same day Vicki went missing, Hollingsworth bought a new truck when he'd previously been relying on his estranged wife for a ride.
Several witnesses also brought up the couple's violent relationship.and prosecutors argued Hollingsworth would've been someone who would've wanted Vicki dead.
But also someone who knew her well enough to know where to bring her car back. The defense team called this case "entertainment". It was featured on the show Cold Justice last year.
The show paid for lab test results instead of using the TBI's lab. And those results tested positive for Vicki's blood in her car, 16-years after the crime. However, there was never any blood evidence tying Hollingsworth to the crime.
The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Friday morning.
Count on Channel 3 to bring you the verdict as soon as it is announced.
PREVIOUS STORY: It's a case that's received local and national attention. A 28-year-old woman is found stabbed to death in the woods, 2 years after she disappeared. For more than a decade, Vicki Hollingsworth's family has been seeking justice in the senseless murder.
Her alleged killed, her husband, Adolphus Hollingsworth.
Vicki's remains were discovered in East Chattanooga in 1999, but the case went cold after that.
It wasn't until Chattanooga Police re-opened the case last year with the help of the TNT show "Cold Justice", that they were able to finally make an arrest.
"Me and my sister woke up to a lot of yelling and screaming," said Wesley, Vicki Carr's son.
Vicki Carr's son, Wesley was just 9-years-old when his mom disappeared.
But the memories of his mother's violent relationship with Adolphus Hollingsworth are still fresh.
"We walked in the bathroom and seen her, him holding her over the sink," said Wesley.
Shortly before Vicki's went missing, her son recalled a fight, where Hollingsworth poured gas on his mom's face.
"The argument escalated to the bedroom and there he threw a pair of keys in her face," said Wesley.
Fast forward one month, to August 18, 1997. Vicki was supposed to take Hollingsworth to work that morning.
But her car was found parked in the driveway of her parent's house on Duncan Avenue.
Prosecutors say a branch lodged in Vicki's exhaust pipe matched one in Hollingsworth's yard.
"That bush was in the back, you could see skid marks where the bush had been run over," said KC Witherspoon, Vicki Carr's brother.
Vicki's brother, KC Witherspoon reported his sister missing.
He remembers seeing Hollingsworth across the street from his parents house that same morning.
"I saw Adolphus across the street at waterboy's house, with that little grin he had, he said I dont know, I been looking for her," said Witherspoon.
But Hollingsworth's attorney says there's not enough evidence.
"You will decide the fate and future of another individual, suspicion is never enough," said Hollingsworth attorney.
PREVIOUS STORY: A man charged with murdering his wife 16 years ago is facing a jury of his peers.
Adolphus Hollingsworth is charged with first degree murder.
He's accused of the 16-year-old murder of his estranged wife, Vicky Carr Hollingsworth.
She went missing in 1997.
Her remains were found two years later, on Billy Goat Hill in East Chattanooga, covered with plastic and tires.
The case went cold and it wasn't until January that Hollingsworth was indicted in the murder.
Hollingsworth was picked up in Texas, where a jail mistakenly released him.
But authorities tracked him down in Ohio and that brought us to the courtroom today.
Vicki was supposed to pick up her estranged husband, Adolphus Hollingsworth the morning she went missing on August 18, 1997.
That's when prosecutors believe Hollingsworth killed the 28-year-old and dumped her body in East Chattanooga.
Vicki's kids, who were just 4 and 9 at the time, woke up that morning to find their mother missing.
Her car was parked in the driveway, but Vicki was nowhere to be found.
Test results showed gas was inside of her car and part of the floorboards tested positive for her blood.
Testimony focused on the suspicious nature of Vicki's car.
There was brush lodged in between her exhaust pipe and a strong odor of gasoline inside.
Those were also red flags to investigators.
Prosecutors say a bush in Hollingsworth's yard matched the branch lodged in Vicki's.
After nearly 17 years, Adolphus Hollingsworth is facing a judge and jury in the 1997 death of his wife, Vicky Carr Hollingsworth.
Jury selection is underway Tuesday afternoon.
Follow channel 3 reporter Sara Sidery (@SaraSideryWRCB) on Twitter
for real-time updates as she follows this case from the courtroom.
PREVIOUS STORY: The man at the center of a 16-year-old cold case has a new trial date.
Adolphus Hollingsworth will go to trial on January 6, 2015. The 44-year-old is charged with first degree murder.
Prosecutors say he's responsible for the disappearance and death of his wife, Vicky Carr Hollingsworth, in 1997. Her remains were found two years later in a remote area on Billy Goat Hill in East Chattanooga. Carr had been stabbed to death and covered with plastic and tires.
Public Defender Steve Brown tried throwing out proof that ties Hollingsworth to the crime, including evidence that put Vicky's 1988 Ford Mustang at Hollingsworth's home right before she went missing -- even though Hollingsworth told police she never showed up to take him to work that morning.
Detectives tracked tire marks across Hollingsworth's yard that matched Vicky's car, which was parked at her parents' house. A branch was found lodged between the bumper that also matched a bush in Hollingsworth's yard on 4th Avenue.
Police released the car to her family years ago. Brown argued that without access to test the car today, the evidence should be thrown out.
"To see how (the branches) may fit in that bumper... how snug they would fit, how loose they would fit," Brown said.
"If we had the car, you wouldn't be able to do that anyway," said Assistant District Attorney Lance Pope. "Branches dry out. They're not going to be in the exact same condition as they were at the time they were collected. But we do have photographs."
Original pictures and DNA swabs are still on file. The defense also tried tossing the blood evidence.
One spot inside Vicky's car tested positive for human blood in 1999, but the TBI didn't have DNA testing back then.
When the TNT show 'Cold Justice' came to town in January, they shipped those samples to a private lab. Vicky's blood was a positive match.
"I was glad we could get the testing done in just a few days," testified Chattanooga Police Sgt. Bill Phillips.
Phillips worked Vicky's murder after it happened and alongside the Cold Justice crew. Hollingsworth was arrested in Texas just days after the samples were sent to the lab.
"We told him he'd been indicted for the murder of Vicky, and that we would be bringing him back here to stand trial," Phillips recalled of his conversation with Hollingsworth.
But the county jail there accidentally released him. U.S. Marshals found Hollingsworth several days later in Ohio.
Brown argues the jury doesn't need to know that, but Judge Rebecca Stern thinks otherwise.
"I mean, I don't know if it matters if he was 'accidentally' released," she said. "The fact is, he was released. And then he didn't come here. He went somewhere else."
The trial was originally set for next week, but some issues with witnesses have pushed it back to January 6.