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Man sentenced to 37 years in prison for stabbing aunt to death

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A 20-year-old who pleaded guilty in September to charges in the 2012 stabbing death of his aunt has been sentenced to over 30 years in prison, according to a Monday afternoon news release from the Jackson Police Department.

Police said Caleb Lawrence Mullins was sentenced to 37 years in prison Monday morning for murdering his 43-year-old aunt, Karen Denise Mullins inside her Copper Ridge Drive home in Jackson on Nov. 10, 2012. He was also sentenced for stealing her SUV.

Caleb Mullins’ sentencing took place a year and eight days after he murdered his aunt and a year and one day since her funeral.

Caleb Mullins, who was 19 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, theft of property of more than $10,000 and tampering with evidence on Sept. 16.

Police said on Monday, Madison County Circuit Court Judge Don Allen sentenced Caleb Mullins to the maximum punishment allowed within Mullins' sentencing range. He was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder, six years for theft of property of more than $10,000, and six years for tampering with evidence. The sentences will run consecutively for a maximum sentence of 37 years in prison for Caleb Mullins.

Caleb Mullins was facing 15 to 25 years for stabbing his aunt to death and three to six years each for the theft of property and tampering with evidence.

Mullins will be held at the Madison County Jail pending transfer to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, police said.

This was not Caleb Mullins first time being in trouble with the law.

According to the Associated Press and Louisville, Ky., court video files, Caleb Mullins was arrested for robbing a man at gunpoint in April 2012. The robbery charge was reduced to felony theft and a potential 10-year prison sentence for Caleb Mullins was reduced down to a one-year suspended sentence, minus 10 days served.

In court video, Judge Katie King warned Caleb Mullins that if he picked up any new charges, he would be looking at serving the remaining 355 days of his sentence.

Less than seven months later, Caleb Mullins murdered his aunt, who had taken him in.

Jackson police said at 9:52 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2012, the department received a call from Sharon Mullins, Karen Mullins’ twin sister who lives in Louisville.

Sharon Mullins told police that she had not heard from Karen Mullins in over 20 hours, which was unusual. The sisters didn't let that much time pass without talking to each other.

When officers arrived at Karen Mullins' home, located in the 20 block of Copper Ridge Cove, they looked through the window and saw a woman lying on the kitchen floor. Officers forced entry into the home and found Karen Mullins dead. Because foul play was apparent at the scene, an assistant county medical examiner and police investigators were called to the scene. The preliminary cause of death was ruled homicide due to multiple stab wounds.

Investigators determined that Caleb Mullins, Karen Mullins' then 19-year-old nephew who lived with her, and her SUV, a Toyota Rav4, were both missing from the house. The investigation also revealed that Karen Mullins moved to Jackson from Louisville in March of 2012 and her nephew came from Louisville to live with her in early October 2012.

Investigators received information from Mullins family in Louisville about a possible location of Caleb in Louisville. Jackson police contacted the Louisville Police Department, which found Caleb and Karen Mullins' SUV around 1 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2012. He was taken into custody and the SUV was impounded by Louisville police as a crime scene.

Jackson investigators traveled to Louisville around 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, to question Caleb Mullins. As a result of the question, the police’s investigation revealed that Caleb fatally stabbed Karen, inside the home, on the evening of Nov. 10, 2012. He then took her SUV and drove to Louisville.

Investigators also recovered a bloody shirt and the murder weapon in a dumpster at Camellia Trace Apartments in Jackson. Police said Karen Mullins and her nephew had lived in Camelia Trace Apartments prior to moving to Copper Ridge Cove.

Karen Mullins was a former employee of Toyota Motor Company and a human resource manager at Eaton Corporation, in Newbern, Tenn.

Caleb Mullins appeared before a judge in Louisville on Nov. 13, 2012, to determine whether he would waive his right to an extradition hearing. Caleb Mullins refused and the judge set his bond at $1 million and a status court date was set for Dec. 12, 2012. He was held, as a fugitive from justice, at Louisville Metro Corrections in Louisville, Ky.

The District Attorney's Office was contacted by the Jackson police regarding Caleb Mullins' refusal to waive extradition and they began the process of applying for an extradition warrant, which if granted, would have demanded the return of Caleb Mullins to Tennessee and have sought an extradition hearing.

Funeral services for Karen Mullins were held on Nov. 17, 2012 in Louisville.

On Dec. 12, 2012, Caleb Mullins waived his right to an extradition hearing and was brought back to Jackson on Dec. 18, 2012 and booked into the Madison County Jail. He was formally arraigned on charges in the case on Dec. 19, 2012 and his bond was set at $500,000.

Caleb Mullins was indicted on April 1 by a Madison County grand jury on charges of first-degree murder, felony murder, theft and tampering with evidence.

Police originally charged Caleb Mullins with second-degree murder, but after further investigation, investigators presented facts and evidence to the District Attorney's Office and those findings were the reason for the more serious and appropriate charges, police said.

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