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No autopsy, no accomplice spur continuance of 2 trials

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — No autopsy and no accomplice in custody led to the continuance of two murder trials originally set for Monday.

A third murder case could conclude Tuesday.

District Attorney Kristi Valls said James Duncan of Elkmont is expected to plead guilty to the November 2003 killing of Michael Anthony Bryant in Elkmont.

Duncan is charged with two counts of capital murder and burglary. The Limestone County Sheriff's Department said Duncan and an accomplice, Joshua Southwick, killed Bryant after a former co-worker of Bryant's hired them.

In 2006, a jury found former co-worker, Mark Angus of Ardmore, not guilty. In February, Southwick pleaded guilty to murder and burglary and received a life sentence plus 20 years.

In a separate case, no new date is set for the trial of Michael Anthony Morell, 29, of Athens, charged with capital murder and attempted burglary.

Valls said she does not have the victim's autopsy.

Sheriff Mike Blakely said Morell allegedly tried to break into the Tillman Mill Road home of Jackie Ray Hall in January 2006. Hall awoke and went outside where Morell allegedly stabbed him, Blakely said.

The third case, the murder trial of Dora Ramirez, 21, of Decatur, is rescheduled for June 18.

In January 2005, Ramirez allegedly lured her lover, Andres Flores Galicia of Decatur, to an isolated area on Mooresville Road, Blakely said.

There, Ramirez's husband, Ulises Reyes Mercado, allegedly shot and killed Galicia execution style, Blakely said.

Mercado fled to Mexico after the shooting and still is on the run.

Other murder trials scheduled for this year, in order of appearance, are:

  • Anthony Dugger: April 25 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.

  • Andrew Lackey: May 14; charged with capital murder and robbery; case is the robbery and stabbing death of 80-year-old Charlie Newman on Halloween 2005.

  • Randall Clem and Derrick and Jeannie Green: June 18; all three charged with capital murder, robbery and burglary; case is the Nov. 11, 2006, bludgeoning death of Art Champion, 74, and the alleged robbery of his money to buy crack cocaine.

  • Domingo Ortiz Velasquez: June 18; charged with murder; case involves the September 2006 stabbing death of Santos Pablo during a neighborhood brawl in Athens.

  • Farron Barksdale: July 30; 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.

  • Jarvis Hines: Dec. 3; charged with capital murder and robbery; case involves the Dec. 14, 2006, shooting death of 64-year-old Donnell McCullough of Athens.

    Due to possible continuances or plea bargains, court dates are subject to change.

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