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Shooting suspect faces attempted murder charge

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

LACEY'S SPRING — Morgan County investigators are hoping another witness will shed light on a shooting that sent a man to Huntsville Hospital on Sunday.

Investigators charged Jason Eric Ledbetter, 33, of 110 Lower Dry Creek Road, Lacey's Spring, with attempted murder in the attack on Billy Christopher Newman, 33.

Chief Deputy Mike Corley said Ledbetter shot Newman in the head with a .45-caliber handgun in the street outside Newman's house at 139 Pine Hill Circle.

Corley declined to speculate on Ledbetter's motive until investigators track down an unidentified witness who was not among those detained by deputies arriving at the scene shortly after 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

"We believe that there is another witness who may have some pertinent information who has yet to be located. Anyone with any information, we would appreciate if they would give the sheriff's office a call," Corley said.

"We emphasize that this case is still under investigation. We have not ruled out the possibility that there may be other arrests," he said.

A medical helicopter took Newman to Huntsville Hospital, where he remained in serious condition in the neurological intensive care unit Monday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

"The investigator that was on the scene at hospital, his report shows the bullet entered the side of head above the ear region and went forward and downward to exit around the lip or mouth area of the victim," Corley said.

"I'm not saying he was shot from behind. ... We now the angle of the entry and the exit, but we don't know how that came about. All of that is under investigation," Corley said.

"It was a very unusual wound. He was spared by the grace of God (to survive) getting shot by a .45 in the head. I don't think there were indications of any brain damage, but there was pretty significant bone damage," he said.

Corley said it appeared Newman had approached Ledbetter, who was in his vehicle on the road outside the home.

"Whether he (Ledbetter) was flagged down, intentionally stopped or intentionally pulled up to them (Newman and others) or called them out of a yard, we don't know yet," he said.

Corley said Newman's 13-year-old stepson, who was with Newman at the time, suffered a superficial injury when, apparently, a piece of debris struck his leg. Emergency medical technicians checked out the boy at the scene.

Ledbetter, who also faces a charge of carrying a pistol without a permit, remained in Morgan County Jail on Monday without bond.

"For us to have taken in a suspect as quickly as we did, it's a pretty complicated case," Corley said. "But it may just take one little thing for us to be able to wrap this up."

Anyone with information can call Detective Kyle Wilson at 560-6188.

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