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Battle over inmate's bills
Commission, Hartselle debate who will cover medical expenses after shooting

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — While Larry Dean Maples waits to be sentenced and transferred to a state prison, two governmental entities are trying to determine who should pay his medical bills.

"We didn't shoot him," Morgan County Commission Chairman John Glasscock said.

"One of our officers shot him, but he was not in our custody when it happened," Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

A Hartselle officer shot Maples on Oct. 20, 2006, as he tried to escape Hometown Market on Sparkman Street while holding a female clerk hostage.

Maples, 49, of 38 Jenkins Court in Hartselle, pleaded guilty in Morgan County Circuit Court last week to three counts of first-degree kidnapping and one count of first-degree robbery.

Circuit Judge Sherrie Paler will sentence him Feb. 28.

In the meantime, Hartselle and the commission have to figure out who is responsible for the more than $66,000 in medical bills.

In September, Glasscock said the county received bills from Huntsville Hospital and a MedFlight bill for transferring Maples from Hartselle Medical Center to Huntsville.

Bill 'past due'

The hospital bill said the "debt is seriously past due."

Glasscock said he sent the bills to Hartselle Police Chief Ron Puckett. The chief notified the hospital that Hartselle would not pay because Maples was not in the city's custody when the shooting occurred.

"We've talked with the city attorney (Larry Madison) and he said we're not responsible to pay it," Tankersley said.

Glasscock said the hospital agreed to a 50 percent governmental discount.

"Just seems strange that we would be responsible since no deputy shot the man," Glasscock said.

The Morgan County Sheriff's Department investigated the shooting and presented its finding to the district attorney.

The grand jury said the shooting was justified and commended officer Chip Reynolds.

"The shooting may well have prevented harm to other officers and civilians," jurors mentioned in their report that cleared Reynolds of wrongdoing.

According to the sheriff's investigation, Maples threatened three employees in the store, including two juveniles.

He took them to the back of the store and threatened to kill them if they didn't stay in the bathroom, investigators said.

Officers were in the parking lot when Maples exited.

He went back inside and grabbed a hostage when he spotted officers.

The investigative report said Maples, while dragging the hostage across the parking lot, threatened to kill her if officers didn't back away.

Reynolds shot Maples in the shoulder. Maples has been in the Morgan County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $800,000 after release from the hospital.

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