News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2007

2 facing felony charges in spree

By Seth Burkett
and Kristen Bishop 340-2355

A young Hartselle man and a Speake teen who went on a crime spree through Lawrence and Morgan counties each face a plethora of felony charges, authorities in both counties said Thursday.

Also, the teen faces possibly being charged as an adult, authorities said.

During their rampage early Wednesday, Dennis Edward Coleman, 18, and his 16-year-old cohort vandalized two schools, played demolition derby with a stolen mini-bus and burglarized several stores, Morgan County sheriff's investigators said.

According to the sheriff's department, Coleman and the 16-year-old admitted to the crimes and explained their behavior as "just doing something wild and crazy."

Morgan charges

Morgan County investigators said they expect to charge each with third-degree burglary for allegedly breaking into the Punkin Center Farm and Home Store, first-degree theft for allegedly stealing a bus from Danville-Neel Elementary and as many as three counts of first-degree criminal mischief for driving the bus through the school's front entrance, ramming it into a pickup in the parking lot and then crashing it into the porch of a home on South Poole Road.

The Sheriff's Department is investigating other incidents in Morgan County for which the duo may be responsible.

Lawrence incidents

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Department charged Coleman and the 16-year-old with two counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of criminal mischief, first and second degree, for allegedly breaking into and vandalizing Speake School and Wiggins Grocery in Speake. The two also face a first-degree theft charge in connection with items stolen at Wiggins Grocery.

The Moulton Police Department has charged them with three counts of third-degree burglary for allegedly breaking into two buildings at TNT Power Sports and Boyd's Auto Sales in Moulton and first-degree theft of a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle from Boyd's.

Lawrence County Sheriff's Department Investigator Lt. Tim McWhorter said Coleman and the juvenile spray painted "Alabama Boys" on the walls of Wiggins Grocery.

"I have no idea what that's about, to be honest with you," he said. "I'm not sure if that's gang-affiliated or not."

McWhorter said the teen may be certified to stand trial as an adult. The 16-year-old has past drug charges in another county and admitted to officers that he had been involved in other crimes, said McWhorter.

"We're looking into certifying him. It'll be up to the judge, and the juvenile probation officer will do a review of his background to determine whether or not he's certifiable, then make a recommendation," said Mc-Whorter.

Coleman remained in the Lawrence County Jail on Thursday afternoon in lieu of $21,500 bond.

The juvenile remained in the Tennessee Valley Detention Center pending a 72-hour detention hearing.

They will be charged in Morgan County after being released on the Lawrence County charges, investigators said.

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