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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

McKinley Cody sentencing
A Cocke County man charged with killing Lora Costner on January 7, 2016, Monday pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the death. McKinley Cody, 20, Lane Road, Newport, pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder, Abuse of a Corpse and Introduction of a Controlled Substance into the Cocke County Jail. Asst. DA Joanne Sheldon told Cocke County Circuit Court Judge Ben Hooper that the plea agreement negotiated with defense counsel James Hickman, provides for Cody the receive a 38 year prison term. Thirty years will be served at 100 percent followed by eight years on supervised probation. Cody was originally charged with First Degree Felony Murder, Robbery, Second Degree Murder, and Abuse of a Corpse in the death of the 42 year-old Costner. He had been held in the Cocke County Jail on a $1,000,000 bond, since his arrest. Ms. Costner had reported her car had a flat tire the day she went missing, and she would be late in picking up her son from school. After Costner didn't show up at the school, her auto was found with a flat tire parked at a church on Bogard Road. Her body wasn't found till March 10. It was located under a tree on the property of Jerry Cody, the defendant's grandfather. The decomposed remains were found just outside of the residence. The suspect shared time in his grandfather's home and in the residence of his mother, Kathy Cody Williams, across the road. Investigators were told Cody and Lora Costner were seen together earlier the day that the victim went missing. Later while Cody was incarcerated, five persons including the defendant's mother, a former Director of Cocke County E911, were charged in a conspiracy to smuggle Suboxone into the Cocke County jail to the defendant. The victim's sister, Mary Anne Costner addressed the audience after the plea was announced, asking that the privacy of the Costner family be respected on social media and in other communications. The daughter of Costner, Molly Costner, sobbed as she spoke. She addressed the defendant directly, however he looked at the floor during the very emotional testimony. " Mckinley, for whatever reason you decided you would end my mom's life. And for that, you have changed all of our lives. My mother was the kindest, most giving person...she would give anyone, anything if they simply asked for it. No human deserves what happened to her. You took so much from a woman who meant so much to me and my little brother. I was sixteen and my brother was nine; we still need out mom."

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