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Blunt force fatal
Lawrence man on trial in father's beating death

By Kristen Bishop 340-2443

MOULTON — A man accused of fatally beating his 72-year-old father told police minutes before his arrest that he "had done something he should have done years ago," according to testimony Tuesday.

Connie Ray McLemore, now 44, allegedly assaulted his father, Cecil McLemore, on Sept. 20, 2005. Cecil McLemore died about two weeks later from his injuries.

Connie McLemore could serve up to 20 years in prison if a jury convicts him of manslaughter in his father's death. The trial began Monday in Lawrence County Circuit Court, and jurors are expected to deliberate Wednesday or Thursday.

Vicille Hill, Cecil McLemore's girlfriend at the time, testified Tuesday that Connie McLemore angered his father by taking his father's Jeep and spinning the tires in the driveway at his father's home at 1715 Lawrence County 173 in Moulton.

"(Cecil and I) were sitting there, and all of a sudden we heard rocks hitting the window," she said. "(Connie) was out doing tailspins."

Hill stayed inside the house while Cecil McLemore confronted his son, she said.

"All I heard when he went outside was 'Connie, what the hell do you think you're doing?' " she said.

Minutes later, she looked out a window and saw Cecil McLemore lying on the concrete with his son straddling him, she said.

When she went outside, a family friend was trying to pull Connie McLemore off his father, she said.

"(Cecil) was lying on his left side with one arm under him and the other one trying to keep the blows off him," she said.

She testified that Connie McLemore told her to stay back because his father had a gun.

It was unclear whether Cecil McLemore had threatened his son with the pistol.

Four family members testified Tuesday that he always carried a loaded pistol in his front pocket and owned several guns.

The beating left Cecil McLemore with many cuts and bruises, and he was bleeding from his ear, but he refused medical treatment when police arrived.

Hill drove him to Lawrence Medical Center about four hours after the assault, according to hospital records.

In the waiting room, he complained of pain in his lower back, Hill said.

A CT scan showed that he was bleeding in his brain. His condition was especially dangerous because he was taking a blood thinner for heart problems, testified emergency physician Dr. Adenyi Hioki.

Blood in his urine indicated possible bleeding in the kidney, said Hioki. The focus at that time was treating the head injury.

Hioki transferred Cecil McLemore to the neurological unit at Huntsville Hospital.

There, McLemore underwent multiple surgeries, including the removal of one of his kidneys.

He never woke up from his last surgery and died at the hospital Oct. 5, 2005.

His official cause of death was laceration of the left kidney due to blunt force, said Dr. Emily Ward, a medical examiner for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

"I can't think of anything other than a kick that could be strong enough to cause that kind of laceration during an altercation," Ward testified.

Cecil McLemore's death was ruled a homicide.

On the night of the assault, police arrested his son and charged him with third-degree domestic violence.

Moulton Police Investigator David Scoggins said Connie McLemore went to jail without resisting and said he "had done something he should have done years ago."

Connie McLemore went to the Moulton Police Department the day after to find out how he could protect himself once his father got out of the hospital, said Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter.

Connie McLemore did not appear to know his father was seriously injured at that time, said McWhorter.

Following his Cecil McLemore's death, Connie McLemore's charge was increased to manslaughter. The penalty is two to 20 years in prison.

Family members testified that Cecil McLemore was an abusive, controlling father and that his son had never stood up to him before the alleged beating.

Cecil McLemore's wife, Wilma McLemore, wept on the stand when she recalled how he was violent toward her and his children and often threatened them with a pistol.

"That's the reason I left," she said.

Wilma and Cecil McLemore were separated and filing for divorce at the time of his death.

Connie McLemore lived on his father's property for more than 20 years and was living there at the time of the incident.

The trial continues Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

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