NEWPORT, Tenn. — Nationally renowned moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn”
Sutton died today in Cocke County and authorities are investigating his
death as a possible suicide, a Cocke County official confirmed tonight.
Coroner Terry Jarnagin said that an autopsy will be performed Tuesday
at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. He said a
determination as to the manner of Sutton’s death hasn’t been made yet
and authorities aren’t planning on releasing further details tonight.
Sutton, 61, of Parrottsville, was soon expected to report to federal
prison to serve an 18-month sentence for illegally brewing spirits and
possessing a firearm as a felon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed.
Sutton spent the last three decades building a reputation as one of
the South’s top makers of white lightning. He starred in various
documentaries about the tradition and penned an autobiography, “Me and
A raid last year on Sutton’s property turned up guns, three
1,000-gallon stills, more than 800 gallons of moonshine and hundreds of
gallons of sour mash and other ingredients, records show. He kept some
of the illegal brew in a shed and some in a junk school bus.
Because of a July 2007 conviction on state charges triggered by a
still explosion, Sutton was on probation in Cocke County when federal
authorities raided his property. He also had prior convictions for
moonshining and felony assault with a deadly weapon, court records show.
Sutton recently was sentenced to two concurrent 18-month terms by
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Greer. He was also to spend three years on
supervised release once he finished up the term.
Sutton’s attorney, Tim Moore, couldn’t immediately be reached for
comment. Moore filed notice last month that he planned to appeal
Sutton’s case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, officials said.
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