NewsNewsChannel 5 Investigates


Askins 'Will Not Be Entering A Plea Of Guilty'

Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 22, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Did Wendy Askins have a last-minute change of heart about pleading guilty to federal charges?

That's the question raised by a new court filing about the woman at the center of the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville.

Askins was indicted two years ago after our investigation revealed she had poured more than a million dollars of agency money into a luxurious home that she called "Living the Dream."

She had been set to go on trial this week.

But, as NewsChannel 5 first reported, the judge had set a hearing last week for Askins to change her plea from "not guilty" to "guilty."

That hearing was abruptly canceled - and her trial was delayed - as a result of a sealed motion filed by Askins's lawyer, Peter Strianse.

NewsChannel 5 had asked the court to unseal the filings.

Now, in a public motion, Strianse explains that Askins "will not be entering a plea of guilty in this case."

He expressed concern that "many prospective jurors may have seen the reports thus impacting her right to a fair and impartial jury."

That's why he requested "a longer continuance to dissipate any potential taint of a jury venire."

Askins' trial is now set for March 8th.