Clate McDaniel, Davis Whittelsey

Clate McDaniel, left, is seeking a new trial after he filed a motion stating his then-attorney Davis Whittelsey did not give him fair counsel for many reasons.

Clate McDaniel has asked the courts to grant him a new trial after he was convicted in June 2018 of murdering Norman Crayton.

In a motion filed last week, McDaniel states his then-attorney Davis Whittelsey did not provide him “effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Constitution.”

McDaniel is now represented by attorney Kenneth White of Phenix City who filed the motion for a new trial on McDaniel’s behalf. The motion lists several reasons Whittlesley was not adequate in his services to McDaniel’s defense before, during and after the trial. One reason includes a statement from Whittlesley to a person close to McDaniel, “McDaniel would lose the jury trial and spend most of his life in prison.”

“Mr. Whittelsey’s decision, prior to jury trial, that he would lose the defendant’s murder trial...is reflected in his inadequate preparation for jury trial, failure to request genetic testing by the Alabama Department of Forensics, failure to retain and call expert witnesses at trial and calling four prisoners as character witnesses,” the motion states.

Whittelsey said an appeal was possible in June 2018 just after McDaniel was sentenced to 40 years in prison by Judge Tom Young. Whittelsey did file for an appeal but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals stated in an order it dismissed the appeal because McDaniel missed the filing deadline for an appeal by nine days. Failure to meet the appeals deadline is another reason McDaniel acquired a new attorney to seek a new trial.

McDaniel never denied killing Crayton in January 2016. McDaniel claimed self-defense and said Crayton waved a gun in front of him after becoming agitated following a Saturday night at a local drinking establishment. McDaniel said Crayton was charging him when he fired the shots that killed Crayton but did not recall dragging or setting the body on fire. Crayton was found hours later by hunters and McDaniel was arrested Sunday afternoon following the incident.

The matter is now before Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ray Martin because Young has retired from the bench. No date has been set to hear arguments on the motion for a new trial.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.