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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 June 13th, 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

 


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

 

 

- A woman faces charges of felony aggravated assault of a police officer and misdemeanor resisting arrest after allegedly hitting and kicking a Limestone County deputy in the face during an arrest Thursday evening. According to a sheriff's spokesman, deputies were dispatched to New Cut Road to investigate a suspicious person, Heather Nicole Reece, walking in the middle of the road. When the deputies approached Reece and asked if she needed medical attention and a ride, she rejected the offer. After checking her ID, however, they discovered that she was wanted on a warrant in Athens. When they attempted to make an arrest, authorities said that Reece became combative, kicking one deputy in the side of the face, but not seriously injuring them. Reece was released on a $6,000 bail Friday morning. If convicted of the charges, she could face up to ten years in prison.

 

- A 37-year-old Lauderdale County woman has been indicted on 50 counts of possession of a forged instrument and three counts of first-degree theft after allegedly forging more than $16,000 worth of checks from her employer's bank account. Authorities said that an investigation into Carnley Melton began in August 2017 after her boss, a local builder, contacted police. Detectives soon discovered several incidents of Melton writing checks from the business account without permission. Melton was arrested last Monday, the 4th, and released on a $90,000 bail from the Lauderdale County jail.

- Birmingham police have formally charged 27-year-old Keegan Dixie with murder because of his involvement in last Sunday night's shooting of 28-year-old Antonio Taylor. Around 11:15 p.m., dispatch sent West Precinct officers to the Shell in the 800 block of Third Avenue West, where they found Taylor suffering from a single gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to UAB Hospital, where he was pronounced dead early Monday morning. Taylor had an infant son. Reports obtained by detectives state that Dixie was outside the store when the shooting happened, but it is still unclear whether the shooting was accidental or intentional. Dixie is being held in the Jefferson County jail on a $250,000 bond.

 

 

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 May 31st, 2018

J.D. Lloyd - Thursday, May 31, 2018

 


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

 

 

 

- Piedmont police are on the lookout for a male suspect who allegedly robbed a convenience store late last Friday night. Not too unique of a case, except this - what appears to be - 5-foot-ten, 210-pound white man was wearing a gorilla mask, dark-colored shorts and a green sweatshirt while he performed the crime. The robbery occurred at the Discount Food Mart with witnesses telling police that the suspect had a handgun and fled the scene with some cash. He was last seen running south on Anniston Avenue, but police were unsure of whether or not he got into a vehicle.

 

 

- Police have filed formal charges against 26-year-old Christopher Rian McGhee who allegedly forced two young children into a bathroom during a home invasion in Tarrant this past Tuesday morning. Tarrant police had received a call from the two children - ages 9 and 10 - who said they were hiding in a bathroom after a gunman had broken into their house and was still there. While the dispatcher kept the older child on the line, police headed to the house and set up a perimeter. Officers forced entry into their home and discovered the suspect a few hours later after a police K-9 sniffed him out in a crawl space. McGhee was taken into custody, treated at a hospital for a bite from the dog and then taken to police headquarters and then Tarrant City Jail. His charges included first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, third-degree burglary, unlawful possession of marijuana, illegal possession of a credit or debit card and possession of burglary tools. He will be held in the Jefferson County Jail on bonds totaling $785,000.

 

 

 

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 May 25th

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, May 25, 2018

 


 

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

 

 

 

- Two sixteen-year-olds were arrested Monday after allegedly robbing a Hoover pizza delivery driver at gunpoint that afternoon. To heighten the tension, they used a BB gun that was a replica of an assault rifle with authorities saying it bore a striking resemblance to a Robinson Armament XCR short-barreled rifle. Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector stated that the robbery effort only netted the suspect $15 in cash. After the robbery, the suspects fled on foot, the victim called 911 and officers were able to locate the two males as well as the BB gun replica of an assault rifle in a backpack belonging to one of the teens. Police charged Christopher Deon Walton and An'ton Je'horma Lewis as adults with first-degree robbery. They are in the process of being transferred from the Hoover City Jail to the Jefferson County Jail where they will be held on $11,000 bond each.

 

- Jefferson County sheriff's officials were able to make an easy arrest late Wednesday when a car break-in suspect drove up to the courthouse on an unrelated matter just moments after warrants were issued against him. The suspect, 30-year-old Caleb Gossett, had allegedly broken into three cars at the Pinson home of Jerrica Graves on Sunday morning. After Gossett fled in a green Chevrolet Z-71 pickup truck, Graves followed him. Gossett then fired shots from a handgun and Graves soon stopped following him and went home where she discovered that a handgun, cash and a baby stroller had been stolen from one of the vehicles. Graves posted surveillance photos of Gossett on Facebook. The Jefferson County Burglary Detail was assigned the case and soon discovered that the aforementioned green pickup truck had been reported stolen. When they contacted the owner of the vehicle, he said "he was unaware that the truck had been reported stolen and that he had not recovered it." He then told deputies that his daughter and her boyfriend - now identified as Caleb Gossett - usually drove the truck. On Wednesday, deputies acquired warrants charging Gossett with three counts of unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle, and one count each of theft of second-degree property, third-degree theft of property, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. As they exited the courthouse, they saw Gossett - who had driven his girlfriend to the courthouse on an unrelated charge - pull up to the curb. He was immediately arrested and walked into the Jefferson County Jail where he remains with bonds totaling $300,000.

 

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 May 18th

J.D. Lloyd - Friday, May 18, 2018

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

 

 

 

- Dothan police arrested a Birmingham man early Tuesday morning after responding to calls about a possible kidnapping at the Flying J Truck Stop on Ross Clark Circle and an elderly woman being locked in the back of a truck in the parking lot. When officers got to the scene and found the Penske truck belonging to the suspect, 43-year-old Jeffery Eric Seay. After making contact with Seay, police discovered his mother, 68-year-old Elizabeth Allen, locked in the rear compartment of the truck. Paramedics then treated Allen at the scene for dehydration and other nonthreatening injuries. Seay was taken to the Dothan Police Department for questioning, but though investigators determined that no kidnapping had occurred, Seay was charged with second-degree elderly abuse. However, the investigation is still ongoing with additional charges pending.

 

 

- A lawsuit is alleging that Madison County physician, Dr. Dr. Celia Lloyd-Turney, is responsible for the wrongful death of 30-year-old Felicia Ann Kelly after prescribing her more than 3,600 pills in under four years. The 14-page lawsuit filed by Maureen Cooper, the administrator of Kelly's estate, says that Kelly died from "mixed drug toxicity," with toxicology tests detecting "fatal levels" of oxycodone and other drugs. Lloyd-Turney was allegedly treating Kelly for anxiety and chronic pain. The total of prescribed pills between 2012 and 2016 was 3,645 and during the final 2 1/2 months of Kelly's life, the lawsuit alleges that the doctor prescribed Kelly at least 582 oxycodone pills. Lloyd-Turner was also writing Kelly other prescriptions during that time for medications such as opioids and benzodiazepines. Turner is accused in the lawsuit of excessive prescribing, failure to properly recognize and treat addiction. Lloyd-Turner's clinic and employer, Choice Medicine, is also named a defendant in the lawsuit and is accused of failing to properly train and supervise its employees.


 

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 May 9th

J.D. Lloyd - Wednesday, May 09, 2018

 


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

 

 

- Over the last two months (March and April 2018), the U.S. Attorney's Office and ATF joined with local law enforcement in Birmingham, Jefferson County and across north Alabama in an intense effort to bring in violent offenders and take illegal guns off the streets. This past Monday, U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson, Acting Birmingham Police Chief Henry Irby III and Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale announced that the operation has led to the seizure of 140 guns and federal indictments against 71 people. There was a hyper-focus on illegal firearm charges and to find those who are committing gun crimes throughout Birmingham, Jefferson County and the entire northern district and get them off the streets and in prison for the longest amount of time the law allows. The authorities looked to indict the suspects federally if they were in possession of a firearm used in a drug transaction. According to the officers, there were about 800 to 1,000 prior arrests among the 71 indicted with an average of three felony convictions each.

 

 

- A work truck stolen in Mobile helped lead the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office to a "trove of stolen equipment" in Baldwin County last week. The Mobile Police Department had called the Sheriff's Office on Friday and reported several vehicles had been stolen from a Mobile business and a GPS signal from one of the trucks - a 2013 Chevrolet - that had actually been tracked to a location on Freddie Sellers Road in the Bay Minette area. When they arrived at the scene, authorities also discovered a Kubota excavator, a Caterpillar skid steer loader and a gooseneck trailer. As the deputies were investigating the scene, two men drove up and soon fled, but were soon caught and identified as Freddie Sellers and Greg Holder Jr. aka "Pooh Bear" (who had the key to the stolen Caterpillar in his pocket). Holder was charged with receiving stolen property, and Sellers was charged with possession of a controlled substance, attempt to elude and receiving stolen property.


 

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 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.

 

 

 

Adnan Syed of "Serial" Granted New Trial

J.D. Lloyd - Thursday, March 29, 2018


(Image Credit: Getty Images)

 

In the ongoing case of Adnan Syed, made famous by NPR's "Serial" podcast, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled in Adnan's favor and has ordered that he be granted a new trial. In a long decision, the Court determined that Adnan's trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to investigate Asia McClain, a witness who purportedly could have provided Adnan with a crucial alibi for the window of time he was allegedly killing Hae Min Lee in a Best Buy parking lot.

 

 

The case was on appeal by both Adnan and the State of Maryland. In the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Adnan had been granted a new trial based upon counsel's failure to question the State's cell phone tower data expert about a warning on a fax cover sheet to the data that warned about the data's unreliability. The circuit court had rejected the claim that counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Asia. Both sides appealed their adverse rulings.

 

And both sides won. The Court of Special Appeals reached the opposite conclusions than that of the Baltimore City Circuit Court. The Court found the circuit court was wrong to grant Adnan relief on the fax cover sheet issue, but was also wrong to deny relief based on counsel's failure to investigate Asia's alibi. The Court explained:
 
McClain’s testimony, if believed by the trier of fact, would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae. Trial counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Syed’s defense, because, but for trial counsel’s failure to investigate, there is a reasonable probability that McClain’s alibi testimony would have raised a reasonable doubt in the mind of at least one juror about Syed’s involvement Hae’s murder, and thus “the result of the proceedings would have been different."

 

When you're complaining that your trial counsel screwed up and denied you your Sixth Amendment right to effective representation, you have to show two things: (1) that some error occurred, and (2) that the error prejudiced you in a way that calls the results of the case into question. You have to show a "reasonable probability" that the results of trial would have been different. You don't have to prove innocence (it helps), but you've got to show more than just "this hurt my case." Here, it's easy to see how a jury could have believed an alibi about Adnan's whereabouts. There was no definitive evidence about where he was -- just circumstantial evidence that was dubious.

 

I don't practice in Maryland and am not well-versed in Maryland appellate procedure, but it looks like the State (or Adnan) might ask a higher court -- the Maryland Court of Appeals -- to review the decision. It doesn't look like either side has a right to appeal to this court and would have to ask for that court to review.

 

Like you, I'm anxiously awaiting a Sarah Koenig update...

 


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