An issue with the jury that decided his fate and the evidence used to send him to prison, are giving a Chattanooga man convicted of murder, a new trial. It's a case that Channel 3 covered from beginning to end.
Dana Wilkes was missing for weeks before her dismembered body was found off Youngstown Road in 2012. Two years later a jury found Tony Bigoms, a family friend, guilty of murder. This week the State Court of Appeals decided Bigoms should get another chance.
A panel of judges could not agree on why Tony Bigoms should have a new trial, but they all agreed he deserved one. Now a new set of jurors will decide his fate.
It's been more than two years since a jury found tony Bigoms guilty of murder.
His DNA was found on Dana Wilkes' clothing. Phone records showed Bigoms called Wilkes constantly in the weeks leading up to her murder. As soon as the dialysis clinic worker went missing, the calls stopped.
Wilkes' husband, who was serving a jail sentence at the time of her death, pointed to Bigoms in a jailhouse interview with Channel 3. “I think he had something to do with something. He knows something,” said Tom Wilkes.
Jurors agreed. But the Tennessee Court of Appeals says a new set of jurors will need to hear the case against Bigoms. This week a panel answered an appeal filed last November.The panel agreed a new trial was needed, but disagreed on why.
A ruling notes the jury was able to go home unattended to pack after being sequestered and make phone calls without officers knowing what they discussed.
Members of the panel also believe a previous case against Bigoms should not have been entered into evidence. Bigoms was acquitted of murder in 2006. The appellate court says that should never have been shared with jurors.
We attempted to reach Dana Wilkes' family members Thursday for comment, and the attorney who represented Bigoms during the trial. They could not be reached. The district attorney's office would not comment because this is now a pending case. A new trial date has not yet been set.