Victim's mom responds to wife's murder plea

Beverly Majors

The mother of a murdered son would have liked a trial and would have hoped for a life sentence for her daughter-in-law, but a plea of second-degree murder is satisfactory.

Kimberly Renee Thurman, 42, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday in Criminal Court at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

Her mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were in court when Judge Don Elledge accepted her plea.

"I'm glad it's over," Helen Thurman said Tuesday by phone.

Her son, Ronnie, was married to Kimberly Thurman for 14 years when she stabbed him to death in their East Wolf Valley Road home in Heiskell on June 30, 2003.

Ronnie Thurman was 43 years old at the time and is the second son and third child Helen Thurman has buried.

"Tommy died of a heart attack and Karen was 35 when she died of cancer," Helen said. Both died before Ronnie, who was the fourth of her eight children.

But, Ronnie's death is the one she thinks about every day.

"It will always be on my mind," she said.

"I'm glad to get closure now so I can concentrate on other important things in my life," she added.

Helen said she would have liked to have had a trial but said she was not sure she could have dealt with it. She said she had been through enough in the past five years.

Kimberly Thurman was a suspect in the case early on, even though she initially told authorities that intruders killed her husband when they broke into their home. The case stalled for five years, and Kimberly Thurman moved to Kentucky.

The case only went to a grand jury after District Attorney General David Clark was elected to the office. A grand jury indicted Kimberly Thurman on a charge of first-degree murder in April 2007.

"We knew that from Day One," Helen told The Oak Ridger.

"I was at work when the officer came. When he told me, I knew right then it was her."

Helen said Kimberly Thurman was abusive to her son and said she knew about additional criminal charges in her daughter-in-law's past.

"I always thought she had it in her," she said. "I just never understood why she wasn't arrested when this first happened.

"They said they didn't have enough evidence," Helen said. "I think she should have got life."

Linda Ferguson, Ronnie Thurman's youngest sister, said Anderson County Sheriff's Department Capt. Penny Baker kept the case alive.

Ferguson at one point went to the County Commission for help, but said she was told to see the former district attorney.

Though she was critical of the former DA, Ferguson praised the new one, stating: "As soon as Clark stepped in, the case went immediately."

Ferguson also said that "my family will never be the same. No words can describe the pain."

Ferguson said her brother was a good man, was a hard worker, and was "crazy about her (Kimberly)."

"We'll never be the same but, I guess we'll just pick up the pieces and move forward," Helen said.

"Knowing she admitted it helps," she said.

"At least we won't have to think about her for about 15 years."

As part of the plea agreement, Kimberly Thurman will serve about 12 years and nine months of the 15-year sentence before being eligible for parole.

The Oak Ridger