Clyde Banner waits to hear his sentence after pleading guilty before the Honorable Judge Lisa Rice on Monday. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

Clyde William Banner stood trial on two counts of murder on Monday, June 10, before the Honorable Judge Lisa Rice for the alleged murders of sisters Donna K. Jones, 34, and Amy B. Jones, 29, on Oct. 11, 2017.

On that day, Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley and other officers responded to a call on Lower Higgins Creek Road. Upon arrival, they found that both female victims were dead with gunshot wounds to the head.

Following the shooting, Banner reportedly fled to Madison County, North Carolina, where he was apprehended by officers with Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Although the UCSD did find a weapon during a search of Banner’s truck, they did not find the weapon described as being the murder weapon. The murder weapon was a shotgun, and according to Banner during testimony given on June 10, he threw the shotgun into the river following the shooting.

Banner pleaded guilty to the charges of first degree murder and second degree murder in the shooting deaths of both Donna, who was the mother of five children, and Amy Jones. When asked by Rice why he shot the Jones sisters, Banner explained that it was to get back at their mother.

“I did it to hurt Teresa (Jones),” Banner said.

During the trial on Monday, Rice explained the charges and sentencing procedures to Banner. Rice handed down the verdict of life imprisonment for first degree murder. For the charge of second degree murder, Banner faces up to an additional 60 years in a federal penitentiary. Banner agreed to serve life imprisonment for the first degree murder charge and an additional 45 percent of the 60 years for the second degree murder charge under his plea of guilty.

Rice explained that Banner would likely spend the rest of his life in custody.

“You understand that you will more than likely spend the rest of your life in prison?” Rice asked. Banner nodded and replied, “yes.”

During the hearing, Banner admitted to shooting Donna Jones first and then shooting Amy Jones.

“This is just tragic, all around,” Rice said.

Hensley agreed.

“It’s been a sad situation for everyone,” Hensley said. “Our prayers go out to both families.”

Hensley praised all the officers that worked the case and acknowledged that the close working relationship with Madison County allowed Banner’s swift arrest.