New Year’s Eve Argument Ends in Murder Conviction

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s Major Crimes Unit obtained multiple convictions against a man who killed his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend at a New Year’s Eve gathering.  Dtearius Carvell Southern, 28, was found guilty of Second Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault, Reckless Endangerment with a Deadly Weapon, Tampering with Evidence, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Drug Felon.  Judge Steve Sword set the case for sentencing on March 9.

In a three-day trial, Assistant District Attorneys Joanie Stewart and Sean Bright explained to the jury that on December 31, 2021, the victim was celebrating New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend and her two children.  Southern is the father of one of the children and was invited to the home by the victim to join the family.  During the evening, Southern made an unwanted advance on his ex-girlfriend and was asked to leave.  Southern refused, and the argument turned physical.  While arguing, Southern pulled a firearm and shot the victim twice.  Knoxville Police Department Inv. Thomas Thurman interviewed witnesses and gathered evidence that led to Southern’s arrest.  Additionally, the five-year-old child who witnessed the shooting was interviewed at ChildHelp of East Tennessee.  At trial, Southern claimed he acted in self-defense, but prosecutors pointed out that one of the two gunshot wounds the victim suffered was in his back.

“Unfortunately, this is another example of a defendant using a firearm during an argument,” said DA Charme Allen.  “We will continue to aggressively prosecute both violent offenders and felons in possession of firearms.”

Second Degree Murder is a Class A felony that carries a punishment between fifteen and twenty-five years in prison without the possibility of parole.  Aggravated Assault, Tampering with Evidence, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon are all Class C felonies, carrying a punishment between three and six years.  Southern has a prior felony conviction for Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana.  Assistant Victim Witness Coordinator Veronica Fay aided in the prosecution of this case.

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or [email protected]. For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.