Tennessee

Cocke County teen takes plea deal in murder case

A man accused of killing a Cocke County woman and hiding her remains in 2016 took a plea deal before a judge Monday. 

McKinley Cody, 19, was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, robbery, and abuse of a corpse on May 2. He's accused of killing Lora Costner, who disappeared on January 7. Her body was found on March 10 on property belonging to Cody's family. 

On Monday, July 10, a judge read Cody his rights before he entered a guilty plea to 2nd degree murder and abuse of a corpse. The first degree murder and robbery charges were dropped, according to a report from WBIR in Knoxville.

Cody will serve a total of 30 years in jail for murder. He will spend 3 years for the abuse of a corpse charge which is concurrent with his 30 year sentence. The judge gave Cody an 8 year suspended sentence for previous drug charges where he had attempted to smuggle drugs into the Cocke County jail. The suspended sentence means it could be brought back up if he partakes in any bad behavior while in jail.

An autopsy showed she died of blunt force trauma to the head. The report said it appeared her killer tried to burn the body to conceal evidence.

Sheriff Armando Fontes said Costner may have been killed for her prescription drugs. In May, McKinley was appointed an attorney, public defender Nicholas Kerr. There was some difficulty in finding at attorney for McKinley without a conflict because of numerous previous criminal cases against him as well as current criminal conspiracy charges.

He and his mother, former E-911 director Kathy Cody, were charged with attempting to smuggle drugs into the Cocke County Jail. He is set to appear in court this Wednesday, May 4, on the criminal conspiracy charges.

His next court date on the murder charges is scheduled for July 12.  He remains in jail on $1 million bond.


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