Family members and friends described the relationship between Melissa Atkin and Scott Reynolds as stormy before she was murdered Dec. 16 at her Smyrna home. Reynolds, 38, of Smyrna, is on trial for killing Atkin, 36, of Grassland Drive. Atkin's brother, Ken, a La Vergne Police Officer, testified Reynolds did not financially support the child he had with Melissa Atkin Wednesday morning in Circuit Court. Chris Atkin, her nephew, said they argued a lot when they lived in Texas. Neighbor Bobby Spicer said Reynolds told him, "she was saying he was an unfit parent." Under cross-examination, by defense attorney Joe Brandon, Spicer said he never saw any signs of violence. Seven witnesses have testified already this morning. Parents Douglas and Linda Atkin of Smyrna feared the worst when their daughter, Melissa, didn't answer her phone and didn't contact them Dec. 16. They went to her Grassland Drive home where they found a door open and the house dark and cold, Douglas Atkin remembered. "We were very, very afraid," Atkin said before testifying he found his deceased daughter lying face down on her bed with her hands tied behind her back. Her beagle ran to the parents when they entered the house but kept vigil on the bed beside Melissa Atkin until a sheriff's deputy asked the parents to remove the pet. Both parents testified Tuesday before Circuit Court Judge Don Ash and a jury hearing the first-degree murder case against defendant Larry Scott Reynolds, who is charged with killing Atkin, the mother of his 6-year-old son, Luke. Reynolds, 38, of Smyrna pleaded not guilty. During a January hearing, sheriff's Detective Ralph Mayercik testified Atkin was bound and shot four times in the head at point-blank range. At the same hearing, Reynolds' girlfriend Eve Barger of Lewisburg testified he told her he killed Atkin. Reynolds became a suspect because he and Atkin were involved in a custody battle over their son. Atkin is the sister of La Vergne Police Officer Ken Atkin. Atkin's family and friends filled the courtroom wearing green wristbands to represent the green belt she earned in Bushido Karate. During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Paul Newman reviewed the evidence and discussed motive and who killed Atkin. "The who is Larry Scott Reynolds, and the motive was based on custody issues, the prosecutor said. Defense attorney Joe Brandon said that's not what the proof will show. Atkin's father testified it was out of character for their daughter not to be in touch with her parents so they went to her house to check on her. He found her in the bed and told his wife not to go inside the bedroom while he called 911. District Attorney William Whitesell played the audiotape of the 911 call. "I think my daughter's been murdered," Douglas Atkin said. Linda Atkin testified that she spent her daughter's last day Dec. 15 with her and made plans to call her the next morning to go to church, but when she called she didn't get an answer. After church, she and her husband, felt something was wrong so they drove over to her home where they found the back door wide open. "You could just feel it was evil," Atkins said. They ran into the bedroom where they found Melissa Atkin lying face down on the bed with her hands tied behind her. She wanted to see her, "beautiful" daughter's face. "It wasn't beautiful," because she was shot in the head, the mother said. "I told her I loved her," Atkin said. Her mother broke down in tears several times during testimony and sniffles were heard throughout the crowded courtroom. Under cross-examination, Brandon asked Mrs. Atkin if she wanted to answer a few questions or return to her courtroom seat. "No, go sit down," she answered and Brandon compiled. Testimony resumes Wednesday.

© 2008 The Murfreesboro Post

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