District Attorney General Joe Crumley filed a formal notice in Washington County Criminal Court that he will try to have Willis executed for the deaths of Adam Chrismer, 17, and his wife of two months, Samantha Leming, 16.
Willis, 52, of Chickamauga, Ga., is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the October shooting deaths of Chrismer and Leming at his mother's Johnson City house.
He also is charged with two counts of abuse of a corpse. Chrismer's head and hands were found in Boone Lake and the rest of his body and all of Leming's remains were found in a rented storage unit in Johnson City.
Authorities in Bradley County, near Chattanooga, also believe Willis killed his stepfather, Sam Thomas, whose headless and handless body was found on Lookout Mountain in Georgia Oct. 17. Thomas had been missing since Sept. 7. His head was found in March in a woods near Boone Lake.
Crumley proposes to use all three deaths in arguing that Willis should be executed for committing mass murder. To meet that criteria in state law, he has to prove Willis killed at least three people in one incident or at different times within four years.
``Which is extraordinary because what that means is I would basically have to try the Bradley County case with a reasonable doubt standard (as well),'' Crumley said.
Crumley said he talked with Bradley County prosecutor Jerry Estes about the strat-egy because he didn't want to harm Estes' case. ``They had no problem with me going for-ward with it,'' Crumley said.
Crumley said the Thomas slaying probably would be taken to the grand jury in Bradley County in the fall.
``We'll just look into it and see what facts he's got to back them up,'' defense attorney Jim Bowman said. ``All of those grounds seem to expand the scope of the defense investigation.'