Tennessee man charged in chase with baby, stolen guns in truck agrees to plea

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Kenneth J. Leedom, pictured Aug. 11, 2019

Updated at 11:38 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8:

A man who allegedly led law enforcement on an on- and off-road chase with stolen guns and a 9-month-old baby in his truck agreed to a plea Thursday.

Kenneth Jeremy Leedom, 32, of Woodbury, Tenn., was charged Aug. 12 with four felonies: aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer, aggravated endangering of a child, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and theft/possession of stolen property.

On Thursday, Leedom pleaded no contest to aggravated endangering of a child, attempted aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer and possession of stolen property.

Then-Sgt. Mark Mehrer of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, now a lieutenant, recounted the chase during a preliminary hearing in Leedom’s case that began Aug. 27 and ended Sept. 4.

The Journal-World has reported that Mehrer stopped a gray Ford Ranger on East 250 Road near North 1400 Road on Aug. 11. The area is northwest of Clinton Lake.

The woman driving said she didn’t have her license with her, but she provided her name, as did Leedom, Mehrer testified. When Mehrer went back to his patrol vehicle, he testified, he saw the Ranger driving away at high speed. He soon realized that Leedom had moved into the driver’s seat, according to testimony in the case.

Leedom reportedly led Mehrer and two sheriff’s deputies on a chase down East 251 Diagonal Road, onto a private drive, through a ravine and eventually back to East 251 Diagonal Road. Using their three vehicles, the officers eventually brought the Ranger to a stop by boxing it in and gradually slowing, Mehrer testified. However, according to testimony in the case, Leedom did attempt to ram Mehrer’s patrol vehicle.

Once Leedom was handcuffed on the ground, Leedom reportedly said there was a gun in his pocket. He reportedly said he was a felon and he was scared because he had a gun in his possession; Leedom said there was stolen property in the truck, Mehrer testified.

According to the police affidavit supporting Leedom’s arrest, a deputy found two rifles and two handguns in the truck, plus the handgun on Leedom’s person. The serial number of one — a Ruger .380 semiautomatic handgun — had been reported stolen, Haney said. The other guns belonged to Leedom’s father, who declined to press charges, according to the affidavit.

In the affidavit, Mehrer wrote that Leedom had apologized for running, as well as for running into Mehrer’s patrol vehicle. As a condition of the plea, Leedom also wrote a letter of apology.

Leedom’s appointed attorney, Shaye Downing, said during the hearing that she and prosecutor Cathy Eaton had agreed to recommend that Leedom’s sentences run concurrently, and that he serve the standard sentences for each count. He will also need to take a parenting class.

Douglas County District Court Chief Judge Peggy Kittel found Leedom guilty of the three charges. Leedom’s sentence will depend upon his criminal history, but Kittel said the maximum sentence could be 46 months in prison for the most severe charge, attempted aggravated battery.

“I would just say that Mr. Leedom has consistently expressed his regret for his actions that day, especially for putting those important to him and the officers’ safety at risk,” Downing told the Journal-World via email Friday.

Leedom has been in custody of the Douglas County Jail on $50,000 bond since his arrest, jail records indicate. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13.

“Even though it appears from the sentencing grid that he is presumptive probation, he has not requested that he be released pending sentencing, but rather, is focusing on making a plan for transition that will hopefully assist him in ensuring that he be successful on probation, if it is granted,” Downing wrote.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

Have a story idea, news or information to share? Contact public safety reporter Mackenzie Clark:

Related coverage

Sept. 4, 2019: Tennessee man charged in alleged chase with baby, guns in truck bound over for trial

Aug. 13, 2019: Man charged after alleged chase in Douglas County with baby, loaded guns in truck

Aug. 11, 2019: Man allegedly leads Douglas County deputies on chase with baby, loaded guns in car


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