Daily file photo by John Godbey|
Chief Deputy Jim Landers with suspect Farron Barksdale, who is accused of shooting two Athens police officers in 2004.
Dozen suspects await murder, capital murder trials in Limestone
By Holly Hollman
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ATHENS — A dozen suspects will greet 2007 behind bars, waiting trial for non-traffic-related murders in Limestone County.
Love triangles, drugs, robbery and the slaying of two police officers led to these murder cases, authorities said.
Of the dozen suspects awaiting trial, 10 face capital murder charges, which could mean life in prison or death if convicted.
“It wouldn’t be so overwhelming
to have these 12 cases pending if there weren’t other cases to deal with,” said District Attorney Kristi Valls.
She said on average, it takes 18 months to prepare for a murder trial between defense motions, scheduling issues, police reports, autopsies and mental evaluations.
Also, some of these murders involved multiple suspects.
“When you have a capital murder case, you want to make sure you’re absolutely ready,” Valls said. “And when you have more than one suspect, they each have different defense strategies. One is pointing the finger at the other.”
The oldest of these cases, Anthony Dugger’s capital murder case, dates back to 2002, but Valls said she
expects a plea from Dugger on Feb. 12.
The second-oldest case is the capital murder trial of Farron Barksdale, accused of shooting two Athens police officers in 2004. Valls said mental evaluations have hindered the start of Barksdale’s trial. He pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
“But I expect those issues to be resolved after the first of the year and to be ready for that trial,” Valls said.
Lengthy process is usual
Athens police Capt. Marty Bruce said investigators are used to the legal process taking a year or more once they make an arrest.
“That’s the way the system works, and forensics is underfunded and understaffed,” Bruce said. “It’s not something that we really get upset about. We expect it to take a while.”
Valls said forensic delays haven’t caused too much backlog with her cases.
In one case she hasn’t received a completed autopsy on Charlie Newman, a 2005 stabbing victim.
Daily photo by Holly Hollman|
Ardmore Police Chief Doc Oliver. left, with Derrick Green, who faces capital murder, robbery and burglary charges. Green’s preliminary hearing is Tuesday.
“Even if I had an autopsy, I’m just now to the point of being ready to try that case,” Valls said.
Names of suspects awaiting trial
These suspects are awaiting trial for murder or capital murder in Limestone County:
Farron Barksdale: No court date set; charged with five counts of capital murder and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle; case is the Jan. 2, 2004, shooting deaths of Athens police Sgt. Larry Russell and officer Tony Mims.
Randall Clem: Waiting for case to go to grand jury; is one of three suspects charged with capital murder, robbery and burglary; case is the Nov. 11 bludgeoning death of Art Champion, 72, and the alleged robbery of his money to buy crack cocaine.
James Duncan: No court date set; charged with two counts of capital murder and burglary; case is the Nov. 12, 2003, alleged murder-for-hire killing of Michael Anthony Bryant in Elkmont.
Anthony Dugger: Trial set Feb. 12 but expected to plead; charged with capital murder; case is the Jan. 27, 2002, alleged murder-for-hire killing of Shane Jarrett, owner of Jarrett’s Wrecker Service; two other suspects took pleas.
Derrick Green: Preliminary hearing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.; is one of three suspects charged with capital murder, robbery and burglary; case is the Nov. 11 bludgeoning death of Art Champion, 72, and the alleged robbery of his money to buy crack cocaine.
Jeannie Green, wife of Derrick Green: Waiting for case to go to grand jury; is one of three suspects charged with capital murder, robbery and burglary; case is the Nov. 11 bludgeoning death of Art Champion, 72, and the alleged robbery of his money to buy crack cocaine.
Jarvis Hines: Preliminary hearing Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.; charged with capital murder; case still is under investigation and involves the Dec. 14 shooting death of Donnell McCullough, 64.
Andrew Lackey: Trial set May 14; charged with capital murder and robbery; case is the robbery and stabbing death of 80-year-old Charlie Newman on Halloween 2005.
Michael Anthony Morell: Trial set April 16; charged with capital murder and attempted burglary; case involves the Jan. 14 stabbing death of Jackie Ray Hall of Owens.
Dora Ramirez: Trial set April 16; charged with murder; case involves the execution-style shooting death of her lover, Andres Flores Galicia; Ramirez’s husband, Ulises Reyes Mercado, also is wanted for murder but is thought to be in Mexico.
Joshua Southwick: Trial set Feb. 12; charged with two counts of capital murder and burglary; case is the Nov. 12, 2003, murder-for-hire killing of Michael Anthony Bryant in Elkmont.
Domingo Ortiz Velasquez: No court date set; charged with murder; case involves the stabbing death of Santos Pablo during a neighborhood brawl.
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