280 murder case

Nicholas Seth Harrison, pictured, was indicted in January for capital murder in the death of Pope, 21, of Sylacauga, who died after being shot while traveling in a light gold four-door 1993 Acura Legend on Sept. 19, 2017. Pictured is the crime scene.

Capital murder suspect Nicholas Seth Harrison has a new attorney.

Thursday Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ray Martin appointed Robin McIntyre to be Harrison’s lead counsel after a request was made for the change.

Harrison was represented by Tim Davis, who struggled from his wheelchair to make arguments on multiple motions in Martin’s courtroom Thursday.

“(A capital case) is a hard case to try,” Martin told Davis. “It has been a toll on you physically to be here today Mr. Davis.”

Martin suspended the proceedings to allow McIntyre, who was assisting Davis, to reassess the case for Harrison to provide a defense and to allow Martin time to search for another attorney to appoint as second chair.

“By law you are afforded the best defense possible,” Martin told Harrison. “I will be searching for a second chair. All motions here today will be held onto. Nothing on the record here today will used against (Harrison).”

Martin’s intent is to allow McIntyre time to see which motions need to be heard, if new motions need to be filed and to allow McIntyre time to properly prepare.

The main motion filed by Davis to be heard Thursday sought immunity under a self-defense claim.

In a March hearing the state announced it had not decided if it will seek the death penalty against Harrison in the 2017 murder of Denzel Pope.

Harrison was indicted in January for capital murder in the death of Pope, 21, of Sylacauga, who died after being shot while traveling in a light gold four-door 1993 Acura Legend on Sept. 19, 2017. Pope’s vehicle came to a stop on the side of the westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 280, just west of Tallapoosa Ford and across from McDaniel Supply and Storage.

Alexander City Police Department Det. Drew Machen testified at a preliminary hearing in December 2017 about written statements from witnesses in the case, including one from Pope’s girlfriend and her close friend.

Machen read statement excerpts saying Harrison was part of a plot to set Pope up for being unfaithful to his girlfriend. Another woman was then used to send messages to Pope and arrange a meeting. But rather than a woman showing up, witness statements indicate Harrison confronted Pope and chased him from Walmart, where the meeting was held.

ACPD Det. Riley Foshee testified Harrison was identified as a suspect and about his role in the investigation.

A short time after authorities were called to the scene and discovered Pope deceased in his vehicle, a car was stopped for reckless driving by Dadeville Police Department officers, according to Foshee’s testimony. The driver of that car was identified as Harrison and bullet holes, a 9 mm handgun and five 9 mm shell casings were found in Harrison’s Ford Fusion, according to testimony from Foshee.

Other facts that came out in the March 2018 preliminary hearing included:

• Foshee testified he performed a gunshot residue test on the hand of Harrison and it was positive, indicating he had been exposed to gunpowder.

• Machen said an autopsy report listed a gunshot to the head as the cause of death and the means of death was listed as homicide.

• Machen testified no gun or shell casings were found inside Pope’s vehicle.

• Video from Walmart and from Satterfield Machine Shop and Outdoor Living was also gathered and was said to depict the vehicles of the suspect and victim.

• Harrison’s defense team asked why the women who allegedly helped in the plot had not been charged and if they had been given immunity or offered any type of deal. Machen said he didn’t know why they hadn’t been charged and had not been given immunity.

Harrison is currently being held in jail with no bond available. 

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.