Reckless homicide charge against Mt. Juliet man dismissed

Thomas Jay Vonohlen, 57, appeared in Wilson County criminal court Monday morning before Judge David Durham where he pled to a lesser charge.
May 13, 2014

A Wilson County judge dismissed a reckless homicide charge against a Mt. Juliet man Monday. 

Thomas Jay Vonohlen, 57, appeared in Wilson County criminal court Monday morning before Judge David Durham where he pled to a lesser charge.

Vonohlen was previously charged with reckless homicide in June of 2011 in the death of his wife, Janice Vonohlen, who died in March of 2010.

After Vonohlen’s wife was found in a diabetic coma, former Sheriff Terry Ashe said Vonohlen was placed under investigation for more than a year.

In 2011, Ashe said deputies responded to a complaint call 18 months prior, in which friends and relatives alleged Vonohlen had intentionally overmedicated his wife, who was a cancer patient. Ashe said an investigation began following the complaint, and Vonohlen’s wife then ended up in Summit Hospital in critical care, in a coma.

“We interviewed him, and he said he didn’t give her any insulin. At the hospital, doctors said she was in an insulin coma. She never woke up,” Ashe said in 2011. “She died March 28, 2010. We had an ongoing criminal investigation into whether or not he intentionally overmedicated her. We waited for all the medical reports to come back. Then the [district attorney] reviewed the case and felt it was certainly a reckless homicide. They think he injected her with insulin.” 

Ashe also said the victim was in remission from cancer, but she was sick for some time and the couple’s finances were suffering due to medical bills. 

“The general consensus was that he just couldn’t take it anymore,” Ashe said. “There were witnesses to this who were concerned about what he was doing. The family said he treated her badly.”

According to Ashe, Vonohlen said repeatedly he didn’t give his wife the insulin, but he later admitted he had. He then reversed course again after he hired an attorney, saying he had not given her the medication.  

On June 22, 2011, Vonohlen was arrested at a bonding company, charged and then released on bond.

“It’s the D.A.’s position that, because of his reckless attitude, his handling of her medicines and the fact that he should been seeking medical advice, he should be charged with reckless homicide,” Ashe said at the time. 

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