Lenoir City woman sent to jail for having a messy yard

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LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ever fall behind on yard work? This East Tennessee woman did -- and now she's headed to jail.

Karen Holloway was cited by Lenoir City officials for not keeping up her yard.

She says this all started over the summer, when the city sent her a citation, claiming her yard wasn't properly maintained.

"With my husband going to school and working full time, me with my job, with one vehicle, we were trying our best," she said.

Holloway, who has two kids still at home, says she'll be the first to admit this yard needed some attention. But she feels the city has gone too far by imposing jail time.

"[The bushes and trees] were overgrown. But that's certainly not a criminal offense," she said.

She was shocked at a hearing last week, when Judge Terry Vann handed down a five-day jail sentence.

"It's not right," she said. "Why would you put me in jail with child molesters, and people who've done real crimes, because I haven't maintained my yard."

She says she was never read her rights nor told she could have a lawyer present.

"I feel like I'm being bullied," she said.

On Tuesday, Holloway made a final appeal before Vann, who reduced her sentence to six hours. But he admitted she's not a criminal, and says this isn't a criminal case.

Holloway offered to do five days of community service instead of the jail time. But Vann refused, insisting she serve time.

Vann could not be reached for comment on his decision after the hearing.

Holloway turned herself into the jail at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.

"This opens a floodgate to everybody in Lenoir City being put in jail for silly things," she said.

Holloway says she's been cited by code enforcers in the past, while her husband was serving overseas in the military. She says she fell behind on the yard work again this time because of personal, family issues.

Code enforcement officers directed all questions to Police Chief Don White, who oversees the department. He did not immediately return calls from Local 8 News.

Judge Vann set a follow up hearing for November to check up on the progress. He suggested he might add on more jail time if the city isn't satisfied with the clean-up.

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