Archived Story

Grand jury returns 167 indictments

Published 12:00am Saturday, March 27, 2004

A Tallapoosa County grand jury for the east side of the Tallapoosa River returned 167 indictments. Among those indicted are a state trooper for domestic violence, a Notasulga man for murder and more.

Reginald Harkins, an Alabama state trooper with the Alexander City post, was indicted by the grand jury for allegedly abusing a child. According to the indictment, Harkins, 35, of Booger Hollow Road in Dadeville, recklessly shook his baby, Jaylan Harkins, causing injuries.

“…Reginald Harkins did commit the crime of domestic violence in the first degree by committing the crime of assault in the first degree in that Reginald Harkins did under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly engage in conduct which created grave risk of death to another person,” the indictment reads.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. The trooper was, according to the indictment, “violently shaking Jaylan Harkins, and thereby caused serious physical injury to Jaylan Harkins.”

Harkins pled not guilty to the charges on March 11, and will face trial on June 14. According to Doris Teague, spokeswoman for the public safety department, Harkins was temporarily placed on leave, but is back working as a trooper while he awaits trial.

“The Alabama Department of Public Safety placed State Trooper Reginald Harkins on administrative leave on March 5, following his felony indictment in that county,” Teague said. “Col. Mike Coppage, the director of public safety, ordered Trooper Harkins be placed on administrative leave after a Tallapoosa County grand jury indicted him on child abuse charges. Trooper Harkins subsequently returned to administrative duties at the Alexander City post.”

Teague said Harkins was hired as a trooper in February of 1997 and has been with the Alexander City post since that time.

Harkins’ charge of first-degree domestic violence is a Class A felony. If convicted in June, Harkins could be punished by 10 years to life in prison and a fine up to $20,000.

Another Class A felony charge is one James Chris Johnson, 45, of Cobb Road in Notasulga is facing. A grand jury has indicted Johnson for murder for his connection in a fatal car accident last August.

Johnson allegedly killed a 53-year-old Notasulga woman while driving under the influence on Alabama Highway 49 South.

“… James Chris Johnson did recklessly engage in conduct which manifested extreme indifference to human life and created a grave risk of death to a person … and did thereby cause the death of Sheila Hammonds by operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and for passing in a no passing zone and thereby striking with his vehicle, the vehicle in which Sheila Hammonds was a passenger.”

The Alabama State Troopers investigated the accident, Teague said Johnson was driving a 1996 Chevrolet Camaro.

“The accident occurred on Aug. 15, around 9:30 p.m.,” Teague said. “It was a two-vehicle crash 16 miles south of Dadeville. The crash victim was a passenger in a 1993 Chevrolet S10 pickup driven by her husband, Ronald Hammonds. Mr. Hammonds was treated and released in an area hospital.”

Johnson is currently imprisoned in the Tallapoosa County Jail. He will have the opportunity to enter a ‘not guilty’ or ‘guilty’ plea on April 7. If he pleas not guilty, he will stand trial during the June 14-25 Dadeville criminal court period.

Also among those indicted was Derrick Nelson, 19, of Main Street in Jackson’s Gap. He has been charged with three counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of second-degree criminal mischief, first-degree criminal mischief and first-degree receiving stolen property.

According to reports, Nelson broke into several buildings and was in the possession of multiple items of stolen property. The indictment reports Nelson caused damage at Deluxe Cleaners, Alan Swindall’s property and Lakeshore Discount Pharmacy. He reportedly caused damage between $250 and $1,000 in two places and damage exceeding $1,000 in another.

Nelson “had the intent to receive, retain or dispose of property,” including one motor scooter, fishing rods and reels belonging to resident Dewayne Holley with a value exceeding $1,000. The indictment also reports he was in possession of a lawn mower, leaf blower and weed eater belonging to Joe B. East. The value was less than $1,000. Nelson also allegedly possessed Jimmy Jones’ property – a leaf blower and lawn mower.

Nelson was originally arrested and charged last October, but was served with the grand jury indictments in March and incarcerated in the county jail.

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