Judge refuses to reduce bond for suspect in deadly North Knoxville ‘road rage’ shooting

Paul Foutner

A Knox County Criminal Court judge on Friday denied a request for a bond reduction entered by a man accused of killing a woman during a North Knoxville “road rage” incident earlier this year. 

Paul Foutner, 31, has been held behind bars in lieu of $165,000 bond since the February 17 shooting that claimed the life of a 38-year-old Powell woman.

Foutner’s defense attorney, Mary Ward, tried to convince  Judge Kyle Hixson that his bond should be reduced due to the fact that he has already spent nearly a year in jail. Ward also said Foutner has connections to the community through his wife and brother, and also through work.

“He has worked construction in the past,” said Ward. “And that’s what he would do if he were released.”

Assistant District Attorney Joanie Stewart, however, countered that Foutner’s wife is one of the reasons he should remain incarcerated. According to records, she had been the victim of a case in which Foutner was charged with aggravated assault just weeks prior to the February 16 shooting incident. Stewart pointed to his wife’s case as an indication that he is a “violent person.”

According to court records, witnesses on February 2 told police they helped hide Foutner’s wife in the backroom of a Pilot so that she could escape the attack in which he had allegedly attempted to strangle her. Police reported that they found her with strangulation marks and scalp injuries where her hair had been pulled out. A witness also reported Foutner said, “I will fucking kill her” during the alleged assault.

Foutner was charged with attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping in relation to that incident. 

Stewart then characterized the February 17 shooting on Central Avenue as a brazen attack in broad daylight which not only left one woman dead but also endangered the passengers of a Knox County School bus, including a student.

The incident took place about 3 p.m. when a white van allegedly swerved into the lane of a black Jeep in which Foutner was riding on Central Avenue near Atlantic Avenue.

The driver of the van and Foutner exchanged words before Foutner reportedly exited the Jeep and began firing. Five bullets hit the van, and one of them struck a female passenger — identified as Tamaralynn Ann Russell, 38, of Powell — in the head. Two other bullets hit the black Jeep and one struck a nearby Knox County School bus. 

Foutner was initially charged with attempted murder, but the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder after Russell died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center as a result of her injuries.

 Stewart indicated that prosecutors plan to present forensic evidence at trial that could further implicate Foutner in the shooting.

“I do think a bond of $165,000 is reasonable for a charge of first-degree murder,” said Judge Hixson. “If I were to do anything to that bond I would increase it… Respectfully I am going to decline both of your requests.” 

In addition to the charge of first-degree murder, Foutner also faces charges of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of employing a firearm with intent to go armed during a dangerous felony, and illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 

Foutner’s next scheduled court appearance is a pre-trial conference on June 22, 2022.

Megan Sadler can be reached at news@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on November 22, 2021.