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The After The Trial blog presents insights on ongoing and recent trials around the state of Alabama, including weekly criminal law round-ups.

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up April 30th

J.D. Lloyd - Monday, April 30, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

- An Alabama man has been accused of stealing thousands of dollars from a church's collection plate and deposited the money into his own account over the course of several months. Mayfair Church of Christ officials said that Gary "Tripp" Bradley III came to the front of the congregation recently and said that he had been taking money while helping out with the church's collection plate during services. The bank at which Bradley had his account became suspicious of the deposits he had made because the checks were made out to the church. According to Huntsville police, Bradley was arrested Friday and charged with theft of property.

 

 

- One of the three suspects charged in the February shooting death of a Westin Hills Mall manager was arrested and jailed Wednesday afternoon on a heroin trafficking charge. The suspect, 20-year-old Anthony Treshun Johnson, had been initially arrested for Anthony "Tony" Alberigi's death on February 21 with alleged accomplices Rashaan Cepadio Brown and Ronald Dewayne Weaver. All three were charged with capital murder, which was later reduced to murder. Johnson was released on a $100,000 bond in late March and put on electronic monitoring. According to court records, he was only allowed to leave home for work, court appearances, meetings with lawyers or true emergencies. Another stipulation of his bond was that he could not be arrested on any other charges. On Wednesday morning, court records show that Fairfield police obtained an arrest warrant for Johnson charging him with trafficking in heroin; the search warrant itself focused on the Dodge Charger used by Johnson during the deadly attack. After searching the car and finding a brown bag that they sent to the DEA Miami Southwest Laboratory for analysis, prosecutors were able to determine that Johnson had been carrying four or more grams of heroin in his car. He was arrested without incident and transported to the Jefferson County Jail.

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.


 


 

 

Court of Criminal Appeals Decisions - April 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, April 27, 2018

 Pruitt v. State 16-0956

 

 

Pruitt pleaded guilty to two counts of committing a sex act with a student, violations of § 13A-6-81, and two counts of distributing obscene material to a minor, violations of § 13A-12-200.5. These offenses involved 3 students Pruitt formerly taught. Pruitt was a teacher in the Blount County School system. She taught at the Locust Fork High School during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. She taught the three students during this time. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Pruitt was transferred to Appalachian High School. During October 2014, she sent Student #1 nude Snapchat pictures, had deviate sexual intercourse with Student #2, and had sexual intercourse with Student #3. For all intents and purposes, the acts were consensual. These facts were stipulated by both sides. Prior to pleading guilty, Pruitt, relying on Lawrence v. Texas, argued that the statutes and charges were unconstitutional as applied to her. AFFIRMED The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the Lawrence-based argument on the grounds that Lawrence explicitly held that the decision didn’t apply to conduct involving minors. Further, the Court concluded that the State has a legitimate state interest in “prohibiting intimate contact between a teacher and a student.” The Court likewise rejected Pruitt’s “consent” defense since the statute expressly says “consent is not a defense.” Finally, the Court held that the fact that Pruitt did not teach at the same school as the students did not entitle her to relief. The Court also rejected an argument that her violation for unlawful distribution of obscene material to a minor didn’t violate her right to Equal Protection to be free from State intervention in a private relationship with a consulting person. The Court ruled against this argument based on the student being a minor (per § 13A-12-200.1) and previous holdings that the State doesn’t violate Equal Protection concerns by prohibiting sexual contact with minors.
 
Towles v. State CR-15-0699
Towles was convicted of capital murder pursuant to §13A-5-40(a)(15) for killing his girlfriend’s son by hitting him on the buttocks with a piece of lumber. This appealed stemmed from a re-trial after the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed his capital murder conviction and death sentence years back. In the interim, Towles’ girlfriend pleaded guilty for failing to protect her son from Towles. The girlfriend didn’t testify at trial. Towles’ defense was that she caused the death and then blackmailed him to help her cover up the child’s death. However, the State impeached Towles by discussing how she had pleaded guilty for failing to protect her son from Towles. REVERSED The Court concluded that the introduction of the girlfriend’s conviction into evidence was improper evidence of Towles’ guilt. The Court also concluded that the trial court’s instruction that “knowledge of the probability of death or great bodily harm is sufficient to constitute murder” impermissibly lessened the State’s burden and undermined the defense’s argument that the killing was, at most, unintentional. Mr. Towles will now go back for his third trial.

 

Betton v. State CR-15-1501
Betton was a juvenile capital defendant seeking re-sentencing under Miller v. Alabama. Here, the circuit court re-sentenced him to LWOP without considering the factors the Alabama Supreme Court announced in Ex parte Henderson. REMANDED The Court held that remand was necessary for the circuit court to enter specific findings under Ex parte Henderson.
 
Battles v. State CR-17-0044
In a prosecution for unlawful possession of a pistol by a forbidden person pursuant to § 13A-11-72(a), Battles waived counsel and represented himself at trial. However, throughout, Battles complained that he didn’t understand the charges against him and complained that he didn’t have the resources necessary to defend his case. REVERSED The Court concluded that while Battles knowingly waived his right to represent himself at trial, the circuit court failed to the factors a court must discuss with a defendant pursuant to Fitzpatrick v. Wainwright, 800 F. 2d 1057 (11th Cir. 1986) and Tomlin v. State, 601 So. 2d 124 (Ala. 1991). Additionally, the court failed to tell Battles he could withdraw the waiver at any time.

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.


 

 

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up April 17th, 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Tuesday, April 17, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

 

- A 29-year-old Bessemer resident has been charged in the shotgun shooting death of his friend and coworker. According to investigators, the suspect, Joseph Lenair Burston, and the suspect, 24-year-old Allen Jamichael Wilson, were at a home in the 100 block of Deadrick Street this past Saturday evening when the two began arguing. Burston allegedly used a sawed-off shotgun to shoot and kill Wilson. Officers responded at 2:45 a.m., declared Wilson dead at the scene and took Burston into custody. Burston is being charged with both murder and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. He is being held in the Bessemer City Jail awaiting transfer to the Jefferson County Jail with a bond set at $90,000.

 

 

- Alabama state troopers arrested a Montgomery man Wednesday after discovering more than $44,000 in stolen property. The troopers stopped 40-year-old William Addison while he was driving in Hartselle. The troopers had learned that the vehicle had been stolen from Prattville and after stopping Addison, they arrested him for first-degree receiving stolen property and resisting arrest. The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation later determined was other stolen property in Coffee County and Geneva County. Working with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Aviation, the Coffee County Sheriff's Office, Geneva County Sheriff's Office, Hartford Police Department, Enterprise Police Department, Prattville Police Department and the Alabama Drug Enforcement Task Force, the agents were able to obtain search warrants on two residences, search a third property and recover two SUVs, two trailers and two drones. The property was worth about $44,000. Officers reported the investigation is ongoing and have not released any further details.

 

- A Birmingham self-proclaimed "cigarette band" was recently put back behind bars after Hoover police say the man smashed in the front door of two Hoover stores and stole several cartons of cigarettes. The suspect, 23-year-old Joshua Magaul Sanders, has been charged with two counts of third degree burglary for two separate incidents in January and March. Sanders had 27 previous charges in just three years, including multiple times in 2015 where he did the exact same thing at the Exxon station on John Hawkins Parkway and in several other municipalities. Hoover police said both recent incidents (the Exxon station at 2270 John Hawkins Parkway and the Shell Station on South Shades Crest Road) had security footage in which a man smashed through the front glass door, stuffed several cartons of cigarettes into a garbage bag and tried to open the cash register by throwing it on the ground before fleeing the scene. Chief Deputy Randy Christian of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said officers responded to a burglary alarm at a Chalkville Mountain Road convenience store shortly before midnight on Sunday. The front door was shattered and Sanders was fleeing. After a brief foot chase, he was arrested after also admitting to breaking into several other stores in Jefferson and surrounding counties. In addition to the expected cartons of cigarettes, Sanders also had on him a handgun, methamphetamine ecstasy and marijuana. A further check into Sanders's record revealed he had outstanding warrants for charges of third-degree burglary, second-degree theft of property and criminal mischief.


If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.


 

Alabama Criminal Law Round-Up April 9th

J.D. Lloyd - Monday, April 09, 2018

 


Here are a few of the criminal law stories that have recently occurred around the state of Alabama:

 

 

- A Jackson County couple and owners of the dogs who mauled a 24-year-old northeast Alabama woman to death in December were recently charged with criminally negligent homicide. Police booked the couple, 43-year-old Brian Keith Graden and 45-year-old Melody Ann Graden, into the Jackson County Jail on Tuesday evening, April 3rd. Both face a misdemeanor homicide charge along with four counts of failure to immunize a pet for rabies. A grand jury has issued these charges as indictments. The Gradens' five dogs killed the victim, Emily Colvin, in front of her home and injured another woman. One dog was shot on the spot by lawmen, and a judge has ordered the other four dogs euthanized. Colvin's death followed another Alabama woman who had been killed by a dog in Marshall County days earlier. Both women's deaths have "prompted Alabama lawmakers to pass a bill this year that can impose felony charges on owners of dogs that seriously injure or killed someone." However, the Gradens will not face the felony charges under the new laws.

 

- Last Wednesday, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of a 56-year-old Memphis man, James Robert Fields, saying they had caught him with 82 pounds of methamphetamine packaged as Mexican candy. On March 29th, the Highway Safety Unit had stopped Fields's Honda for erratic driving on Interstate 59/20 near mile marker 104 near Rock Mountain Lakes. Fields allowed authorities to search the vehicle and they found a large bag containing several smaller bags of Mexican candy in the trunk. However, the deputies said the "candy" felt granular and soon determined it to be methamphetamine. The 82 pounds carried an estimated street value of almost $1.5 million. James Robert Field is being held on a $200,000 bond in the Jefferson County Jail and faces charges of trafficking methamphetamine.

 

 

If you or someone you know has been convicted of wrongful criminal charges, there is hope after the trial. Contact us today by clicking HERE.

 

 

 


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