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The man accused of killing a Tennessee deputy and wounding another during a traffic stop last week made his first court appearance Thursday.

Kenneth Wayne DeHart Jr., 42, was arraigned but has not yet entered a plea on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a weapon, news outlets reported.

Blount Sessions Court Judge William K. Brewer assigned the public defender’s office to represent DeHart when the defendant said he did not have a lawyer. The public defender’s office did not immediately respond to a call on whether DeHart had been assigned a lawyer.


DeHart was arrested Tuesday in Knoxville after a five-day search. He is accused of fatally shooting Blount County Deputy Greg McCowan, 43, and wounding Deputy Shelby Eggers, 22, during a traffic stop last week, authorities have said.

Kenneth DeHart

Suspected cop killer Kenneth Wayne DeHart has been arraigned in court. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Deputies had initiated a stop on suspicion of erratic driving and the driver was identified by authorities as DeHart. He refused to get out of the SUV, and a stun gun was used to no effect, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. The driver produced a gun and fired shots, striking both deputies, the statement said. At least one deputy returned fire and DeHart drove off, it said.

At McCowan’s funeral, he was remembered for his service to others even before following his dream to become a law enforcement officer.

“If you were in harm’s way, he would stand in harm’s way for you even before he became a police officer. That was just Greg,” friend Greg Willis said. “He went out doing what he loved. That was his dream to be a police officer. What more could you ask for (than) to go out doing what you love?”

Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong also spoke about McCowan’s desire to serve the community. The deputy began his career in law enforcement in 2020 after graduating from a training class and was commended in 2021 for helping save the life of a man trapped in a burning vehicle.


“He wanted to make a difference. And there’s no doubt in my mind that he did,” Berrong said.

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