Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thousands flock to Monrovia for food giveway

MONROVIA, Alabama 
Before today's food giveaway to tornado victims and the needy, Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong was wondering what would be done with the food that was left.
When he left the Monrovia Community Center at 3:30 p.m., he didn't have to worry about that.
"There's not one can of anything left," he said.
Organized by area churches and other organizations, an estimated 4,500 people from across the county picked up items ranging from toilet paper to cereal to fresh chicken.
"I ain't never seen anything like it," Strong said. "The line never stopped."
Hundreds of people were in line 30 minutes before the giveaway began at 10 a.m.
"I've never seen this many people standing in line," Strong said.
Kroger, Halsey Foods, Woody Anderson Ford, local churches and others donated about $100,000 worth of food hauled to the center in three tractor-trailer trucks.
About 200 volunteers handed out the bags of food to families based on family size. The number of family members determined the size of the food bag the family received.
Brenda Bryson of Victory World Outreach organized the volunteers, who came from colleges, churches, fire departments, businesses and other organizations.
Strong said he provided "moral support and back support" for the event, and no county money was spent on the giveaway.

Former Dothan doctor to spend two days in jail for violating the terms of the county work release program

DOTHAN, Alabama
A Houston County judge has ordered a former Dothan doctor to spend two days in jail for violating the terms of the county work release program.
Andrew Osborne
A jury found 47-year-old Andrew Osborne guilty of second-degree domestic violence earlier this year. Circuit Court Judge Larry Anderson sentenced Osborne to four years in prison, which was suspended for 90 days in the county's work release program.
Court records indicate Anderson found that Osborne met with a woman at her home twice without the knowledge of the work release program. He ordered Osborne to serve 48 hours in jail, starting Friday.
Anderson also granted Osborne credit for about two weeks already served in jail, and ordered him released after serving the two-day jail term.

Highway 431 traffic stop results in the seizure of illegal drugs, cash and handgun

Abbeville, Al.
Deputies arrested 24 year old Danisha Rayshaun Stewart and 25 year old Lorenzo Walter McClure both from Atlanta, Georgia. Stewart is charged with possession of marijuana 2nd degree and McClure was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana 1st degree and possession of a concealed weapon without a permit.  
On September 22, 2011 around 10:00 pm, deputies with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 431 in the city limits of Abbeville. During the traffic stop, a search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs including marijuana and cocaine, a handgun and an undisclosed amount of cash believed to be from the selling of illegal narcotics. 
Both suspects have made bail and are out on bonds.
Stewart was released from the Henry County Jail under a $3,000.00 bond while McClure was released on bonds totaling $33,000.00.

Mobile 27-year-old found shot in vehicle; dies at hospital

MOBILE, Alabama
 Mobile police say a 27-year-old was found shot multiple times in a car on Delta Street in Mobile on Friday night and later died at Spring Hill Medical Center.
Emergency medical technicians found Adrian Loftin in his vehicle unconscious and unresponsive when Mobile Fire-Rescue responded to a call of an unconscious male at 1908 Delta St. at 10:05 p.m., Mobile police said today in a news release.
Mobile police officers on the scene were advised that Loftin suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
Delta Street is off the Dauphin Island Parkway, not far from Maryvale Elementary School.
Police public information officer Ashley H. Rains said homicide detectives will continue investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Mobile Police Department at 208-7211, Crime Stoppers at 208-7000 or text to CRIMES (274637) and include the keyword CRIME 411.

Andalusia Man gets 40 years for abuse; other plead

Andalusia, Al.
An Andalusia man charged with using a steam iron and bamboo walking cane to abuse his child has pled guilty to criminal charges and been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The Andalusia Police Department charged Jerry Cowan, then 48, with domestic violence II and aggravated child abuse last September after the abuse was reported to the Department of Human Resources, and the two agencies interviewed the child at school.
Lt. Paul Dean, who investigated the case, said at the time it was the worst case of physical abuse he or anyone else investigating the case had ever seen.
“People look at the pictures and just gasp,” he said.
Cowan, was represented by Larry Grissett, told investigators he “spanked the child a little too hard.”
Grace Jeter, chief assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the case, said, “I cannot imagine the horror that this child endured at the hands of his own father.
“I have seen pictures of prisoners of war who were not scarred and mutilated like this child was,” she said. “If you think about all the pictures you have ever sent of torture victims, you will have an idea of what this child’s body looks like. Jerry Cowan belongs in prison.”

Cowan’s case was among 40 criminal cases disposed of in Covington County Circuit Court this week after plea agreements were reached. They include:
 • Jeffrey O. Pate pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Attorney: Rod Sylvester.
• Jackie Cook Jr. pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 32 months probation. Attorney: Rod Sylvester.
• Karen Bennett pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to six years in prison. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Gregory Harper pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 32 months probation. Attorney: Stephanie Cotton.
• Jessica Sutton Grooms pled guilty to manufacture of a controlled substance I, for which she received a 15-year sentence, and possession of marijuana II, for which she received a one-year sentence. Attorney: John Peek.
• Daniel Todd pled guilty to theft of property III and fraudulent use of a credit card, for which he received three years probation. Attorney: Chris Sledge.
• Jasmine Byrd pled guilty to forgery II and received 30 months probation. Attorney: Will Carr.
• Curtis Lee Dortch pled guilty of robbery III for which he received a 15-year prison sentence. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Phillip Grantham pled guilty to electronic solicitation of a child, for which he received a 20-year prison sentence. Attorney: Will Carr.
• Travis McKenzie pled guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, for which he received a 15-year prison sentence. Attorney: Rod Sylvester.
• Kim Blocker pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which she received a 10-year prison sentence. Attorney: Deb Smith.
• Denarieya Letrex Smith pled guilty to receiving stolen property II, for which he received a 10-year sentence; breaking and entering a vehicle, for which he received a seven-year sentence; and burglary III, for which he received a 10-year sentence. Attorneys: Stephanie Cotton, Trey Burgess and Manish Patel, respectively.
• Tonya Harrell pled guilty to theft of property II, for which she received a 10-year sentence. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Anthony Montrell Scott pled guilty to burglary III, for which he received a 20-year prison sentence. Attorney: Gypsy Smith.
• Juanita Bleichroth pled guilty to two counts of possession of marijuana I and received three years probation. Attorney: Riley Powell.
• Jeffrey Schofield pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which he received a 10-year prison sentence. Attorney: Sonny James.
• Tommy Jason Sutton pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which he received 15 years probation. Attorney: Manish Patel.
• Joseph Blake Nowell pled guilty to burglary III and theft of property I, for which he received 10- and 15-year sentences. Attorney: Larry Grissett.
• Terry McClain was sentenced to prison for his guilty plea to burglary III (three years), criminal mischief III (six months), and distribution of a controlled substance (13 years). Attorneys: Grady Lanier and Manish Patel.
•  Arthur Lee Hunter pled guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, for which he received a 20-year prison sentence. Attorney: Rod Sylvester.
• Johnny Halford pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which he received a prison sentence of six years. Attorney: Gypsy Smith.
• Donnie Dewayne Hay pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which he received a prison sentence of 32 months. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• David Fritz Otto pled guilty to possession of burglar’s tools, for which he received a 15-year sentence.
• Robert Alton Davenport was sentenced to prison for his guilty pleas to theft of property II (15 years), and two counts of forgery II (15 years each). Attorney: Meredith Peters.
• Melissa Hudson pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, received 32 months probation and was transferred to drug court. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Casey Davison pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, received 32 months probation and was transferred to drug court. Attorney: Meredith Peters.
• Jeremy Michael Norton pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, received 32 months probation and was transferred to drug court. Attorney: Grady Lanier.
• Joseph Ray Smith II, pled guilty to theft of property I, for which he received a 46-month prison sentence. Attorney: Benton Persons.
• Christopher Parkin pled guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, for which he received five years probation. Attorney: Manish Patel.
• Bobby Ray Tyson was sentenced for his guilty pleas to receiving stolen property II (20 years) and theft of property I (20 years). Attorneys: Grady Lanier and ChaLea Tisdale.
• Jimmy Darrell Miles pled guilty to forgery III, for which he received two years probation. Attorney: David Baker.
• Ronnie Crawley pled guilty to theft of property I, for which he received 18 months probation. Attorney: Rod Sylvester.
• Christopher Barnes was sentenced for his guilty pleas to possession of a controlled substance (five years), possession of marijuana I (five years) and rape II (10 years). Attorneys: Grady Lanier and Deb Smith.
• Charles Wheeler pled guilty to violation of the sex offender notification act, for which he received a six-year prison sentence. Attorney: Chris Sledge.
• Tracy Lee Soto pled guilty to theft of property II, and received an eight-year sentence. Soto, who was represented by Bill Alverson, is applying for probation.
• Lee Elbert Carthon pled guilty to rape I, for which he received a 20-year prison sentence. Attorney: Gypsy Smith.
• Michael Lamar Weaver pled guilty to manufacture of a controlled substance II, for which he received a 15-year sentence. He is applying for probation. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Rodney Sanchez Wiley pled guilty to distribution of a controlled substance, for which he received 12 years probation. Attorney: Corey Bryan.
• Mark Jacob Seaney pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, for which he received a six-year sentence. He is applying for probation. Attorney: Trey Burgess.

Jury selection begins Monday in Lee Co. deputy’s death trial

Family, friends, and co-workers of Deputy James Anderson gathered at the Lee County Sheriff's Office for a memorial. Saturday marks the two year anniversary of his death.
Deputy Anderson's alleged killer, Gregory Henderson, attended his last status hearing in court before his capital murder trial set to begin Monday.
Friday afternoon, Henderson, dressed in a suit and handcuffs was present for his last status hearing before Monday's trial.   
Henderson faces either the death penalty or life in prison if convicted of running over Deputy Anderson and killing him with a car during a traffic stop.
His plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect has not changed.
Major Tommy Carter says "I know next week is going to be a tough week for all of us with the trial starting. But we have each other to lean on and we have Gods support and love to see us through."

Friday's Football Scores from around the State

PREP FOOTBALL SCORESAbbeville 20, Barbour County 7
Abbeville Christian Academy 20, Ellwood Christian Academy 6
Addison 54, Meek 0
Akron 20, A.L. Johnson 6
Alabama School for the Deaf 44, Fayetteville 8
Alexandria 34, Boaz 7
American Christian Academy 42, Lamar County 6
Andalusia 35, T.R. Miller 10
Ardmore 26, Clements 14
Ariton 38, New Brockton 8
Ashford 30, Carroll-Ozark 22
Ashville 26, White Plains 14
Auburn 48, Oxford 34
Austin 42, Athens 14
Autauga Academy 48, Meadowview Christian 12
Baker 22, Robertsdale 19
Bayside Academy 38, Mobile Christian 13
Beauregard 24, Benjamin Russell 15
Berry 58, Appalachian 22
Bessemer Academy 34, Morgan Academy 7
Bibb County 42, Sipsey Valley 0
Blount 26, Williamson 20
Bob Jones 28, Spain Park 13
Brantley 19, Luverne 0
Buckhorn 28, Gardendale 25
Bullock County 9, B.T. Washington 8
Catholic-Montgomery 17, Autaugaville 14
Center Point 40, Mortimer Jordan 20
Central-Florence 62, Butler 20
Central-Phenix City 64, Russell County 28
Chelsea 34, John Carroll Catholic 13
Choctaw County 33, Francis Marion 14
Citronelle 46, Satsuma 0
Clarke County 35, Marengo 14
Clarke Prep 72, South Choctaw Academy 26
Clay County 7, Lineville 6
Clay-Chalkville 42, Sparkman 13
Cleburne County 33, Cherokee County 7
Colquitt County, Ga. 40, Carver-Montgomery 13
Columbia 46, Brewer 20
Cordova 16, Parrish 15
Corner 48, Locust Fork 20
Cottage Hill 41, Fruitdale 28
Crenshaw Christian Academy 31, Ashford Academy 14
Dadeville 54, Horseshoe Bend 6
Danville 41, Priceville 38, 2OT
Daphne 41, Theodore 20
Deshler 42, Colbert County 14
Donoho 41, Spring Garden 20
Dora 48, Curry 7
Dothan 28, Stanhope Elmore 21
Douglas 34, Cedar Bluff 21
East Limestone 17, Madison County 7
Edgewood Academy 46, Pickens Academy 14
Elba 75, Geneva 14
Elkmont 27, West Limestone 20
Elmore County 31, Tallassee 29
Escambia County 27, Faith Academy 21
Eufaula 28, Smiths Station 7
Evangel Christian Academy 20, Lakeside School 7
Excel 6, Monroe County 0
Fairfield 21, Bessemer City 20
Fairhope 49, St. Paul's 35
Fairview 38, Holly Pond 0
Flomaton 47, Jay, Fla. 14
Florence 27, Muscle Shoals 22
Foley 35, Alma Bryant 21
Fort Dale Academy 31, Macon-East 6
Fort Payne 44, Cullman 21
Freeport, Fla. 49, Saint Luke's Episcopal 40
Fyffe 61, Ohatchee 7
G.W. Long 41, Dale County 12
Gaston 29, Notasulga 28
Geraldine 14, Pisgah 7
Glenwood 63, Lyman Ward 0
Gordo 28, Fayette County 13
Goshen 33, Pike County 20
Greensboro 57, Dallas County 10
Greenville 20, Charles Henderson 17
Gulf Shores 21, Saraland 14
Guntersville 10, Arab 0
Hackleburg 14, Brilliant 8
Hamilton 35, Haleyville 13
Hanceville 38, Crossville 0
Handley 48, Sweet Water 27
Hartselle 28, Decatur 21
Hazel Green 22, Albertville 17
Headland 44, Houston County 39
Hewitt-Trussville 43, Minor 20
Highland Home 30, Georgiana 18
Hillcrest 42, Paul Bryant 7
Hillcrest-Evergreen 19, W.S. Neal 6
Holt 44, Northside 15
Homewood 28, Huntsville 27
Hoover 35, Gadsden 21
Houston Academy 20, Holtville 14
Hubbertville 49, Holy Spirit 14
Hueytown 36, Shades Valley 20
Ider 47, Victory Chr. 12
J.O. Johnson 27, Etowah 22
J.U. Blacksher 42, Florala 35
Jackson 37, Leroy 13
Jackson Academy 39, Coosa Valley Academy 6
Jacksonville Christian 7, Vina 6
Jeff Davis 40, Enterprise 34
Keith 37, Southside-Selma 7
LaFayette 33, Central Coosa 24
Lauderdale County 49, Brooks 26
Lawrence County 20, Hatton 13
Lee-Scott Academy 21, Prattville Christian Academy 6
Leeds 41, St. Clair County 0
LeFlore 29, B.C. Rain 15
Lincoln 20, Anniston 16
Linden 39, Greene County 8
Lynn 57, Carbon Hill 21
Madison Academy 35, Plainview 6
Maplesville 54, Billingsley 0
Marbury 21, Chilton County 18
Marengo Academy 42, South Montgomery County Academy 12
Marion County 49, Sulligent 22
McAdory 13, Midfield 6
McGill-Toolen 31, Davidson 17
McKenzie 30, Red Level 6
Mountain Brook 34, Grissom 14
Munford 41, Jacksonville 8
North Jackson 42, Hubbard 8
North Sand Mountain 28, Sand Rock 7
Northridge 22, Oak Mountain 7
Oak Grove 41, Brookwood 26
Oakman 34, Fultondale 27
Oneonta 47, Hayden 6
Opelika 16, Prattville 14
Parker 21, Jackson Olin 6
Patrician Academy 34, Escambia Academy 28
Pelham 27, Pleasant Grove 14
Pell City 41, Moody 21
Phillips-Bear Creek 42, Phil Campbell 33
Pickens County 40, Aliceville 6
Piedmont 28, Glencoe 17
Pike Liberal Arts 45, Hooper Academy 20
Pinson Valley 55, Springville 27
Pleasant Home 14, Samson 13
Pleasant Valley 21, Section 0
Providence Christian 34, Geneva County 20
R.C. Hatch 30, Sunshine 0
Ragland 40, Gaylesville 14
Ranburne 35, Beulah 6
Randolph County 48, Talladega County Central 6
Red Bay 26, Belmont, Miss. 7
Reeltown 60, Loachapoka 0
Rehobeth 35, Cottonwood 19
Rogers 28, Lexington 0
Saks 47, J.B. Pennington 0
Sardis 28, New Hope 20
Scottsboro 24, Lee-Huntsville 21
Seminole County, Ga. 73, Daleville 28
Sheffield 19, Colbert Heights 14
Shoals Christian 55, Cherokee 13
Sidney Lanier 48, Selma 6
Slocomb 20, Wicksburg 17
Southside-Gadsden 17, Shelby County 14
Spanish Fort 24, Baldwin County 0
Sparta Academy 38, Lowndes Academy 30
St. James 27, Montgomery Academy 14
Straughn 14, Opp 13
Sumiton Christian 35, Cold Springs 0
Sumter Academy 24, Southern Academy 7
Sumter Central High School 54, John Essex 6
Susan Moore 14, Hokes Bluff 6
Sylacauga 45, Childersburg 0
Sylvania 17, Brindlee Mountain 10
Tanner 55, West End-Walnut Grove 20
Tarrant 33, Winston County 0
Thomasville 55, Demopolis 27
Thompson 48, Carver-Birmingham 0
Thorsby 32, Shades Mountain Christian 7
Tishomingo County, Miss. 18, Wilson 7
Trinity Presbyterian 35, Alabama Christian Academy 13
Tuscaloosa Academy 35, Restoration Academy 28
Tuscaloosa County 23, Central-Tuscaloosa 0
UMS-Wright 24, Mary Montgomery 0
Valdosta, Ga. 49, Lee-Montgomery 0
Valley 41, Lanett 12
Valley Head 41, Tharptown 21
Verbena 25, Isabella 13
Vestavia Hills 35, Briarwood Christian 14
Vigor 24, Murphy 21
Vincent 33, Montevallo 9
Walker 32, Russellville 17
Walter Wellborn 12, Weaver 6
Washington County 35, Millry 0
West Blocton 46, Hale County 8
West Morgan 41, East Lawrence 28
West Point 12, Good Hope 8
Westbrook Christian 41, Coosa Christian 6
Westminster Christian Academy 43, Falkville 7
Wilcox Academy 28, Monroe Academy 18
Wilcox Central 28, Calhoun 18
Winfield 20, South Lamar 19
Winterboro 28, B.B. Comer 0
Woodland 52, Wadley 35
Woodlawn 21, Talladega 0
Woodville def. Parkway Christian Academy, forfeit
Zion Chapel 12, Kinston 6

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alabama court's church or jail sentencing option draws ACLU ire, national attention

BAY MINETTE, Alabama — A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday.
"This policy is blatantly unconstitutional," said Olivia Turner, executive director for the ACLU of Alabama. "It violates one basic tenant of the Constitution, namely that government can’t force participation in religious activity."
But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called "Restore Our Community" says no one is being forced to participate.
"Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders," Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said. "It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people."
Rowland said the idea was simple: get people who are not yet hardened criminals to become involved in positive programs — hundreds of free resources offered by some 104 churches in the region with 56 agreeing to help monitor first-time, nonviolent offenders. Under the program, pastors would report weekly to the chief and offenders in the program would bring a signed sheet to prove they attended church.
They would also have to answer some questions about the services, Rowland said. And the offenders who voluntarily choose church over jail get to pick the churches they attend. If they complete a year’s attendance, Rowland said, their criminal case would be dismissed.
Rowland said the goal is to produce "productive citizens."
Some critics say the program definitely crosses the line between church and state, with some minority religious groups shut out of participation because few mosques or synagogues exist in the area. And atheists would have no option, Rowland said, but to pick another alternative sentencing program.
Rowland said the Bay Minette ROC project is the only one of its kind in the country, but online searches show others have been tried. A similar program in London, Ky., drew headlines in 2004, and before that a judge in Lake Charles, La., was eventually suspended for ethics violations stemming from sentencing defendants to church, according to a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in 1994.
"The biggest question or complaint we have had is about separation of church and state," Rowland said. "Those issues won’t come to the forefront because the offenders are not being forced to attend church, and what religion they choose is really up to them. We even have provisions for people who are from out of town to choose a place to worship in their own communities."
Rowland said he was doubtful, however, that an atheist would choose to participate in the ROC program, but would be able to choose community service or other options.
The ACLU is "considering options for response," Turner said.
"There isn’t a real choice here," she said. "This policy completely entangles government with religion, and is an abuse of power because it coerces people into religious exercise."

Ala. man charged with bigamy

Abbeville, Ala.
A 34-year-old man from Georgia has been arrested on a bigamy charge in Alabama.
Henry Country Sheriff William Maddox says Jason Elliott Mazingo was arrested this week on charges that he was simultaneously married to two women. One of them lives in Columbus, Ga. The other lives in Headland.
The investigation began after one of those women made a complaint to the Henry County Sheriff's Office in Abbeville.
Reports state that Mazingo was released from the Henry County Jail after posting $2,500 in bail.
 It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

Three Arrested in Theft Case

Hokes Bluff, Ala.
For the second day in a row, the Etowah County Sheriff's Office got some breaks in investigations that led to arrests in burglaries, Sheriff Todd Entrekin said.
The arrests Friday came after a woman pulled up at her Posey Road home and saw a strange pickup in the yard. The good description she was able to give law enforcement officers them helped catch three people who are believed to be responsible for at least three burglaries on Friday morning, Entrekin said.
The woman saw the pickup and left. She drove to Hokes Bluff City Hall, where she saw Hokes Bluff Police Chief Mitchell Hill and told him about the pickup.
Hokes Bluff officers went to the woman's home and discovered the door had been kicked in.
“She was able to give a very good description of the pickup,” Michael Jones, chief of investigation at the Etowah County Sheriff's Office, said.
Hokes Bluff police officers and sheriff's office deputies and investigators stayed in the area, and a deputy spotted the pickup on U.S. Highway 278 near Reaves Road.
He pulled the driver over, and there were two men and a woman in the truck.
The truck had items from at least three burglaries that happened Friday morning, including the one on Posey Road. Doors were discovered to have been kicked in at homes on Centre Road and Creekside in the Ball Play area, Jones said.
Investigators still are trying to determine if the three arrested could be linked to any other burglaries.
On Thursday, investigators recovered weapons taken on Wednesday during a burglary at a home on Appalachian Highway.
The arrests were made after an Albertville police officer got information that some weapons at a home in Albertville might be stolen. It was determined that a weapon at the residence had been stolen from the Appalachian Highway home, Jones said.
Jones said another stolen weapon was recovered from a residence on Coates Bend. He said some other items believed to have been stolen, including jewelry, were found. A man from Albertville and a man from the Coates Bend area are in custody, Jones said, and are expected to be charged with that burglary.

$10,000 reward offered in unsolved Oxford murder case

Gov. Robert Bentley says a reward of $5,000 will be given to anyone who offers information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who murdered the Oxford Papa John's manager Barbara Exum earlier this month.
A sketch of the suspect in the murder of Barbara Exum
"Sometimes tips from the public are the only leads law enforcement officers have to help them solve a case," said Gov. Bentley. "I hope this reward will encourage anyone with any information to come forward and help authorities solve this case and bring Ms. Exum's killer to justice."
Exum, 56, was shot to death outside of the Papa John's restaurant in Oxford at approximately 11:35 p.m. Sept. 9. Two other Papa John's employees were at the restaurant at the time of the shooting. Police believe robbery was the motive behind the shooting.
Oxford police have released a sketch of the suspect, who is described as a a black male in his mid-20s, between 5 feet 6 and 5 feet 8 inches tall with wide shoulders but a slight build and a raspy voice. He wore a camouflage bandana over his face and was armed with a black semi-auto pistol.
An additional $5,000 reward has been offered by Papa John's Pizza, making the total reward amount $10,000.
Anyone with information regarding this case should contact Oxford Police Department Investigator Dewitt Ashley at (256) 835-6119 or Lt. L.G. Owens at (256) 835-6136. You can also contact the Oxford Police Department online at or

PAL Fund Raiser

Smelley guilty of murder

Brian Smelley
Walker County, Al. 
  Brian Michael Smelley, the Cordova man who has been on trial for murder for nearly two weeks, was sentenced to life in prison Thursday afternoon after a jury found him guilty following about five hours of deliberation.

Also sentenced to life in prison on Thursday — while the jury was still deciding on Smelley’s guilt —was Smelley’s co-defendant, James David Hollie, who was expected to be tried in a separate trial in November.

Hollie agreed to a plea deal that had him plead guilty to murder. In exchange for his admission, the Walker County District Attorney’s office agreed to drop charges of first-degree robbery and abuse of a corpse.

Smelley, however, was found guilty of the lesser offenses. He received from Walker County Circuit Judge Doug Farris a sentence of 99 years in prison for the robbery charge and 10 years for abuse of a corpse.

All three of Smelley’s sentences will run concurrently.

“I’m sorry this all happened,” the 40-year-old Smelley told the judge before his sentence was handed down.

Farris said during his law career he has never been involved in a trial involving a crime as “heinous and gruesome” as the one for which Smelley and Hollie were found guilty.

Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said Smelley and Hollie will probably be eligible for parole after they have served one-third of their sentences.

After killing Harris, the men dismembered the 62-year-old’s body and scattered it across Walker County in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Both men were also ordered to pay their share of a restitution fine that will not exceed $60,000 as well as costs associated with the murder’s investigation.

Members of Harris’ family, who have spent nearly two weeks watching the trial of Smelley, were present for Hollie’s plea and sentencing Thursday.

Jan Harris, Richard’s sister who testified in Smelley’s murder trial, said “Justice was finally served today for Rick.”

Connie Harris, the wife of Randy Harris, Richard’s brother, wiped away tears as she talked about her family’s loss. “They took a lot from us,” she said in reference to Hollie and Smelley.

She added she is grateful that her family will not have to endure another trial involving the gruesome details of her brother-in-law’s death and dismemberment, which prevented the family from having the open-casket burial the family had planned.

“We had to relive everything that happened a year and six months ago,” she said. “It’s been a tough two weeks and I’m glad to see it over.”

Jan Harris said she sympathizes for the family members of the men expected to spend the remainder of their lives behind bars.

“There’s really no winners in this. We lost Rick and we’re never going to get him back. They lost their sons because of their choices and I feel for their families — I really do.”

Adair said he was glad to see Richard Harris’ family get some relief when the trial concluded Thursday afternoon.

“This family has been through an awful lot and I think the results of today will hopefully give them some closure,” Adair said.

Thomas Carmichael, one of Smelley’s defense attorneys, said he was disappointed in the verdict.

He argued that his client’s participation in the crime was minimal and done under duress. In court Carmichael had conveyed to jurors that Smelley was afraid if he didn’t agree to help Hollie after the shooting, he too would be murdered.

“All he (Smelley) did was what he had to do to get out of there and get home to his mother,” Carmichael told the Jury during closing arguments on Wednesday.

After Smelley’s sentencing Thursday, Carmichael said “We respect the jury’s verdict, but we respectfully disagree with it, and expect further proceedings on the issue later.”

Because of what Farris called a “copious amount of evidence” he allowed jurors to stay in the courtroom while they determined Smelley’s guilt so they would have access to the materials used by the state to prosecute Smelley.

The evidence included dozens of photographs, clothing that belonged to Harris, a saw suspected of being the instrument used to dissect the victim’s body, the garbage can where Harris’ torso was discovered and what may have been the most crucial piece of evidence used to convict Smelley — the tape recording of the confession Smelley gave during an interview with Walker County District Attorney’s office investigators Frank Cole and John Softley.

In that interview played four times during the trial, Smelley admits that he drove Richard Harris’ vehicle away from the Boldo flea market where the murder took place and aided Hollie in hiding sawed off parts of Richard Harris’ body.

“Both of these guys got what they deserve,” Adair said.

Man arrested in meth case

A Cullman County Narcotics Team investigation resulted in the arrest of a local man for alleged manufacturing of methamphetamine.
Steven Hooper, 29, of Phelan, was arrested earlier this week by CNET agents at his residence on Cullman 623.
Hooper was charged with unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance.
Following up on a lead about possible drug activity at Hooper’s residence, CNET agents traveled to his home and gained consent to search the premises from his wife.
CNET agent Chris Thomason said they found all the components of meth lab in a storage building behind Hooper’s home.
“It was just a small metal building,” Thomason said. “He had all the components to manufacture methamphetamine in there. We also found coffee filters that tested positive for pseudoephedrine and a measuring cup that contained white residue.”
No active meth labs or finished product were recovered by law enforcement officials.

Anniston councilman sues mayor over City Hall altercation

Gene Robinson
John Spain
Anniston, Al.
Councilman John Spain filed a lawsuit against Mayor Gene Robinson Thursday afternoon requesting damages for emotional distress from alleged long-term harassment and the alleged fight that erupted between the two after a council meeting Sept. 13.

Spain states in the complaint that he left the Council Chambers to avoid an ugly incident and Robinson followed him into the hall and shoved and hit him.

Spain reacted in self defense only to “control Robison and to prevent further harm to himself,” the complaint states.

After the brawl that evening, Spain had said, Robinson asked him to step outside and Spain went with him. Spain had said he hadn’t expected to talk.

Both he and Robinson went to the Police Station immediately after the meeting to file complaints against the other. Spain was arrested that evening and charged with assault based on what a policeman near the door of the hallway witnessed, police have said.

Robinson could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Dothan's Violent Crimes Unit make two arrests after numerous shots fired

Taurus Terrell Simpson
Taurus Terrell Simpson, black male, 26 years of age, of South Appletree Street was arrested September 22, 2011 and charged with Shooting into an Occupied Dwelling and Shooting into an Unoccupied Dwelling with bonds totaling $350,000. 
Crystal Carter, black female, 30 years of McKay Street was arrested September 20, 2011 and charged with First Degree Hindering Prosecution with a $15,000 bond. 
Crystal Ca

On September 20, 2011 the Dothan Police Department responded to a report of shots fired in the 700 block of North Cherry Street. Upon arrival, patrolmen learned that shots were fired following a verbal altercation between two subjects. Members of the Violent Crimes Unit took over the investigation and have now made two arrests. Police say during the incident, Taurus Simpson fired numerous shots in the air resulting in two residences being struck by stray bullets, one of which was occupied at the time and the second which was unoccupied. After firing the shots, Simpson fled the scene in an awaiting vehicle driven by Crystal Carter. Both Simpson and Carter have now been taken into custody for their roles in this shooting.  

Dothan man arrested for Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card

James Junior Williams
Dothan, Al.
James Junior Williams, black male, 50 years of age, of Headland, Alabama was arrested for Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card with a $2,500 bond.

The Dothan Police Department Investigative Division has made a felony arrest following a recent investigation. Police say while employed at Dunbarton, James Williams conducted fraudulent transactions with a company credit card to fuel his personal vehicle. Police say Williams was arrested early this morning and the case will now be closed.

Six arrested in Cottondale meth lab bust

Six arrested in Cottondale meth lab bust
Cottondale, Al.
The West Alabama Narcotics Task Force busted six people yesterday at the same residence in Cottondale for making meth out of four meth labs. The narcotics agents searched a residence in the 6000 block of Shadow Ridge Lane in Cottondale yesterday around 9:30 a.m. and discovered the six suspects inside with the meth labs.
Two of the meth labs were in the process of making meth, one was inactive and another was actively boiling when the agents arrived. The narcotics team disposed of the meth-making chemicals according to government guidelines.
The following people were arrested and charged in relation to the meth lab bust:
Gracie Renee Garner, 35, was arrested for one count of Trafficking Meth, one count of Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance First Degree and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. She was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $205,500 bond.
James Ellison Rutherford, 21, was arrested for one count of Trafficking Meth, one count of Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance First Degree and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $205,500 bond.
Joseph Hinton Lawrence, 26, was arrested for one count of Trafficking Meth, one count of Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance first Degree, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $205,500 bond.
Cayla Michelle Garner, 19, was arrested for one count of Trafficking Meth, one count of Unlawful Manufacture of a Controlled Substance First Degree, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $205,500 bond.
Derek Trent Hassell, 22, was arrested for one count of Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance, one Count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and one count of Resisting Arrest. He was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $20,000 bond
Michael Earl Willis, 22, was arrested for one count of Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance and one Count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was placed in the Tuscaloosa County Jail pending a $17,500 bond.

Executed Huntsville man apologized to victim's mother on prison gurney

ATMORE, Alabama 
Derrick Mason apologized to Angela Cagle's mother while strapped to a prison gurney before he was executed Thursday night for the 1994 slaying of Cagle at a Huntsville convenience store.
Derrick Mason
"I would like to apologize to Mrs. Cagle's mother for the pain I caused her," Mason, 37, said minutes before a lethal dose of drugs began flowing into his veins.
Mason was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for shooting Cagle twice in the face as she lay naked on a back-room table at a Sparkman Drive convenience store on March 27, 1994.
Mason's scheduled 6 p.m. execution was delayed for about 15 minutes while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a last-minute appeal from Mason's lawyers. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declined Wednesday to commute Mason's sentence to life in prison without the chance of parole.
Cagle's mother, Anne Larrivee, was among four members of Cagle's family who witnessed Mason's execution in Holman Correctional Institute here.
Larrivee and the family said in a written statement issued after the execution that Mason accepted the consequences of his actions after showing Cagle no mercy.
"We extend our sympathy to his family and pray his death will make others think twice before committing such a heinous crime," the statement said. "We praise God for giving justice to Angie, and a measure of closure. We will miss Angie until we see her in heaven. We are grateful for the prayers and support we have received for 17 1/2 years in dealing with having her ripped from our lives but never from our hearts."
Mason also thanked Cagle's father, Steve Worsham, for "reaching out to me" several years ago. Mason apologized to Worsham and said that he had given his life to God. Worsham replied in a letter that as a Christian he forgave Mason, but he still had to face the consequences of his actions.
"The execution was extremely difficult for us to watch," Cagle's family said in a second statement written after the execution. "Mr. Mason made an apology, the first time we have heard from him, not knowing of the communication with my ex-spouse until today. We firmly hope that he had accepted Christ and will not have to suffer for his deed any further. We certainly wish he had made a different decision on 3/27/94, then neither of our families would have had to have been here tonight."
Four Mason family members and a family friend leaned on each other as they witnessed the procedure. Mason told them in his last statement to remember the Bible verse Joshua 1:9.
The verse reads: "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
A woman, who was apparently Mason's mother, Maggie Mason, said, "Take him, Jesus" several times while the drugs took affect. She referred to Mason as her son when she said, "He's resting for the first time."
Mason's chest heaved once after the lethal drugs began flowing, and he raised his head slightly to look at the IVs in his left arm, which was strapped to a support, before closing his eyes for the last time at 6:27 p.m. Mason was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m.
Mason fasted all day Thursday and did not request a last meal, said Grantt Culliver, deputy commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Mason, who arrived on death row in 1995, spent almost the entire day with 10 visitors, Culliver said.
Mason was the second person sentenced in Madison County that the state executed this year, but only the fifth since the state took over executions from the counties in 1927. Leroy White was executed in January for the 1988 shotgun slaying of his estranged wife, Ruby Lanier White.
Eight other men sentenced in Madison County are on death row. They are Nick Acklin, Benito Albarran, James Barber, Anthony Tyson, Jeffery Rieber, Mohammad Sharifi, Jason Sharp and Joey Wilson.

Judge to decide soon whether to proceed with declaring Mountain Brook's Natalee Holloway dead

Dave Holloway
A Jefferson County judge said he would decide later today or early next week if a petition to officially declare Natalee Holloway dead should proceed, after the father tearfully described efforts to find his missing daughter.
Holloway, who would be 25 next month if she is still alive, disappeared during a 2005 trip to Aruba of graduating seniors from Mountain Brook High School.
The petition to have Natalee officially declared dead was filed in June by her father, Dave Holloway. The father has continued to pay his daughter's insurance and other expenses and wants to transfer to Natalee's brother, Matt, some $2,000 Dave Holloway had set aside for his daughter's college education.
A lawyer for Beth Holloway, Natalee's mother, asked Probate Judge Alan King for a continuance on the initial hearing set for today on the father's petition. King denied the request for a 30-day delay.
Beth Holloway was very upset by the petition to declare Natalee dead, and still holds out hope her daughter is alive, said Charles DeBardeleben, who represented her in today's hearing. Testifying for about 45 minutes Friday morning, Dave Holloway described the months-long search for his missing daughter in Aruba. Based on statements by the prime suspect in the case, Joran van der Sloot, the father believes his daughter is dead, Dave Holloway testified today.
"This is one case we'd like to lose," said Mark White, one of Dave Holloway's lawyers.
"We would like to have someone come forward. You hope to have some closure personally. Our job is to try to get some closure legally.
If King allows the case to proceed, notices will be published seeking proof that Natalee is still alive, and a hearing to review that information will be held, probably in early 2012.

Grand jury to review child porn possession charges against Prattville pastor

A grand jury will review evidence after a Prattville pastor was arrested and charged with possessing child pornography this week.
Clyde David Myers
Clyde David Myers, 63, pastor of the Prattville Community Church on Fifth Street, was taken into custody by the Prattville Police Department on Tuesday after authorities said they found child pornography on his computer. Myers was charged with five counts of possession of child pornography and taken to the Autauga Metro Jail with bonds totaling $375,000.
Myers waived court-appointed counsel and did not have an attorney at his first court appearance on Wednesday.
His case will be presented to the grand jury at a future session. His next court appearance is slated for Oct. 11, says the report. 

Alabama soldier whose request for state flag was initially rejected has now received 21

A soldier from Alabama stationed in Afghanistan said he has received 21 state flags since The Birmingham News late last month reported that Gov. Robert Bentley's office, citing budget constraints, had refused to send him a state flag after he requested one to fly at his camp.
Army Sergeant First Class Howard J. Blake Jr. in an email received this morning said that so far he has received 21 state flags, three U.S. flags, two Auburn flags, two Bama flags, ''lots of food and snacks for the guys,'' letters from at least nine state government officials and more than 200 emails from Alabamians ''offering kind words and support.''
Blake wrote that he is flying two of the state flags at his camp near Kandahar, six have been given to other soldiers from Alabama and most of the rest ''are awaiting a home with another Alabama soldier.''
''The outpouring of support that we have received from many concerned citizens in Alabama and a few other states has been amazing,'' Blake wrote.
Bentley last month changed his office's policy. A top aide said its policy now is to provide a state flag requested by any Alabama service member serving in a combat zone.
Blake wrote that, ''I do want people to know that no hard feelings are harbored toward our governor for the initial denial of the requested flag. He did change the policy and send a flag as soon as he heard of the initial denial.''
Blake wrote that he got word recently that a package from Bentley was in Kandahar on the desk of a sergeant, ''and should be to me in a day or two.''

Bessemer man robbed as part of gang initiation

Bessemer, Al.
A man in Bessemer was robbed Thursday morning by two young men wearing bandanas who told him it was part of their gang initiation. Police departments across the Greater Birmingham area are now on the lookout for the two suspects who allegedly robbed Anthony Eason, a 61-year-old Bessemer resident.
Eason said he was waiting for the bus at the bus stop on 9th Avenue and 24th Street in Bessemer when a white car pulled up. Two young men got out of the car and approached Eason.
Anthony Eason
"They ran up to me, blue and gray bandanas on their head and said, 'Give it up, Old Man.' And the old man gave it up.  I'm not hard headed," Eason said. The robbers then informed Eason they had two more people to rob that day to make their quote for an initiation into a gang.
Eason said at first he though the men were going to kill him.
"I kept thinking, 'Lord, have mercy.'  And that's what He did. God had mercy on me because he has a work for me to do. I gotta lead somebody to Christ and I wish it could be them," he said.
Eason had a message for the young men who robbed him earlier in the day: "You're not tough.  You're not bad.  And it's always somebody as tough as you, shoots a little quicker, faster, straighter.   Get in the church and get in the Word of God," he said.
The suspects are described as two men in their late teens or early 20s, wearing blue plaid shirts with bandanas, driving a white 5.0 Mustang.