court

Despite the productivity of the court system in Alexander City and Dadeville, many notable cases remain to be adjudicated.

Former minister still facing 2016 sex abuse charges

Roy Eugene Wooten, a former minister at an Alexander City church, was indicted on multiple charges, including three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a minor female in August 2016.

Wooten, who was originally arrested Feb. 24, 2016 after an investigation by the Alexander City Police Department, remains free on a $100,000 bond.

At the time of his arrest, Wooten was listed as the pastor at Church of God Prophecy in Alexander City. He no longer serves in that position.

Wooten is represented by attorney Thomas Radney of Alexander City who said in 2016 his client is ready to defend himself when it is time for trial.

“Mr. Wooten is innocent of these charges and we are eager to prove that with our defense of this case,” Radney said at the time.

The case was on the October docket but was continued to the next term in Alexander City.

One last suspect awaits trial for 2017 Dadeville murder

Dadeville resident Tavorick Laquaz Black is charged with murder in the 2017 death of 27-year-old John Ferrel Adamson.

Black has an open youthful offender application that is under advisement with Circuit Court Martin. 

Dazmon Notorious Shaw, of Camp Hill, and Daquon Denzel Sheeley, of Jacksons Gap are in jail for their roles in the death of Adamson. Shaw pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault and is currently serving 19 years in prison. 

Sheeley was found guilty of murder and attempted murder in December. Fifth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Isaac Wharton sentenced Sheeley to 70 years in jail. Sheeley took the stand in Shaw’s trial after taking the plea deal. Black took the witness stand but exercised his Fifth Amendment right and offered no testimony. 

According to court records, there is no hearing or trial set for Black.

Warrants for the three men charge them with murder and provide more details surrounding the Sept. 28, 2017 murder in Dadeville.

Black was alleged to commit murder in the commission of another crime, first-degree robbery. Black was arrested Oct. 4, 2017 and released Oct. 19, 2017 on a $250,000 bond.

Shaw was out on bond on two other drug charges at the time of Adamson’s death. Court records show Shaw was arrested in December 2016 for trafficking opium and was out on a $75,000 bond. While out on the trafficking bond, Shaw was arrested Aug. 4, 2017 for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and posted a $2,500 bond Aug. 14, 2017. The trafficking, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia charges have been bound over to the grand jury.

Then-Dadeville police chief David Barbour said 911 dispatch received several calls of shots fired in that area at 12:47 a.m. Sept. 28, 2017. Officers arrived shortly thereafter finding Adamson and Gerald Haggerty lying in Jah Street with gunshot wounds. They were transported to Lake Martin Community Hospital where Adamson died. Haggerty was treated there and then flown to Columbus, Georgia, for continued treatment.

Residents on Jah Street said at the time they heard about six shots over a 10-second time frame. One resident said one of the victims could be seen running from the shooter almost “running out of his clothes” while seeking cover at a nearby home.

Former Camp Hill police chief faces trial

The trial of former Camp Hill police chief Roosevelt Finley Jr. has been continued to the next term. 

Finley, 59, of Opelika, is charged with seven counts of violation of ethics laws after an Alabama Ethics Commission investigation recommended criminal charges. He was arrested in March 2017 and released after posting a $100,000 property bond.

The indictment alleges Finley used his position as police chief in Camp Hill for personal gain.

One charge alleges Finley sold his personal vehicle using the website GovDeals.com and directly received the funds. The site is for government use only and is often where surplus goods are peddled by cities and towns.

Five counts allege Finley used a Camp Hill Police Department debit card to purchase items such as meals, items at department stores, a Sam’s Club membership, fuel for personal use and toner for a printer. In some of the indictments, it is alleged Finley was also reimbursed by the town for those purchases even although they were paid for originally with city funds.

One count alleges Finley received a $2,450 check written from “Camp Hill Police Department Narcotics for the sale of jewelry.”

Finley was terminated from the position he held for 22 years Oct. 20, 2014. While reasons for the move were not given at the time, at a subsequent hearing the reasons given by then-Camp Hill Mayor Danny Evans said Finley “violated protocol and had discrepancies in payroll.”

The case is currently on the docket for June in Dadeville before Circuit Court Judge Steve Perryman. 

Hit-and-run suspect indicted

Robert Lancaster, 34, of Jacksons Gap is charged with manslaughter in the death of Tina Doranne Guerrero.

Guerrero, 50, was struck while outside of her stopped vehicle on the River Bridge in the early morning hours of Nov. 29, 2018. She was found by a witness who drove up on the scene and called 911.

“An officer responded to a call of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle on the River Bridge,” ACPD chief Jay Turner said the day after the incident. “It appeared the victim’s vehicle had broken down and the victim was either checking on the stopped vehicle or trying to wave down help.”

Turner later said investigators pulled off a difficult investigation after Lancaster was arrested.

“They pulled off the nearly impossible,” Turner said in December 2018. “I didn’t think they would get this close this soon.”

Lancaster is due in court again in April.

Capital murder suspect awaiting trial

The state has not decided if it will seek the death penalty against Nicholas Seth 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 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 that said 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 after him from Walmart where the meeting was held.

ACPD Det. Riley Foshee testified about how Harrison was identified as a suspect and 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, Foshee’s testimony confirmed. 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 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.

• The ballistics reports have not been returned from the crime lab to verify if the weapon and projectiles match the gun found in Harrison’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. 

Hutcherson’s trial continued to next term

Justin Kyle Hutcherson of New Site is still awaiting trial on charges related to production and possession of child porngraphy.

“All local media has sensationalized the nature of the charge against the defendant to the point that it will be impossible for the defendant to receive a fair and impartial jury in Tallapoosa County,” a motion stated in March 2019.

Opelika attorney Zachary D. Alsobrook represents Hutcherson, 32, who was indicted on 61 counts involving an investigation into the possession of child pornography.

Alsobrook said in his motion filed March 13, 2019 citizens in Tallapoosa County and the district attorney shared a story by The Outlook on Facebook and the district attorney went on to comment about it.

“The district attorney assured concerned citizens that his office had a very strong case,” Alsobrook’s motion stated.

Hutcherson was indicted by a Tallapoosa County grand jury March 1, 2019. Duerr told The Outlook about the charges after Hutcherson’s arrest on March 1, 2019.

Alsobrook made statements in a motion after Hutcherson’s indictment accusing the district attorney’s office of malice in the handling of the case.

“The State of Alabama is attempting to railroad through 13 criminal counts against the defendant without so much as a preliminary hearing being had,” Alsobrook’s motion read. “…The state is doing so because it knows that upon the complaining officer being cross-examined that this court would have certainly thrown out the majority if not all the counts against the defendant. If the state wanted to bring this matter before the grand jury for probable cause, it had that ability prior to arresting the defendant on a citizen’s warrant.”

Alsobrook also stated in a motion for his client in March that Hutcherson placed a camera in his own home and had certain images saved to his personal computer.

Hutcherson is currently out of jail on bond.

Alex City man sits in jail for rape of a minor

John Kenneth Kelley, 36, of Alexander City was arrested in July 2019 and charged in the March 2019 rape and kidnapping of a 13-year-old.

“He picked her up after she got on a school bus,” Alexander City Police Department detective commander Sgt. William Grant said in July 2019. “He drove up and enticed her into a car. She asked to go to Dollar General.”

Court documents state the incident occurred on the afternoon of March 6, 2019.

“She revealed the incident to her parents in March,” Grant said. “It was reported to us in March.”

Kelley is in the Tallapoosa County Jail on $50,000 bond but will be held until a probation violation is taken up by the courts.

Kelley is no stranger to law enforcement. Court records indicate he pleaded guilty to theft by fraud in 2012, second-degree theft in 2009 and first-degree theft and third-degree burglary in 2004.

Lamborne awaits trial for theft from employer

Carla Johnette Lamborne of Alexander City is on a plea docket in April following a grand jury indictments in August 2019 on first-degree theft, identity theft and four counts of fraudulent use of a credit or debit card.

A Tallapoosa County grand jury returned the true bills where it found sufficient evidence for the charges.

The indictment said Lamborne took currency from her then-employer Dr. Billy Sellers Jr. in excess of $2,500, used identifying information of Sellers to obtain goods and services for herself or a third person and used, attempted to use or allowed to be used three credit or debit cards from Bank of America and one credit or debit card from First Bank.

The indictment stems from an Alexander City Police Department investigation following a November 2018 report of an employee stealing from a business. An incident report dated Nov. 16 states about $50,000 was taken between January 2017 and October 2018.

Placement on the plea docket does not mean Lamborne will admit to the crime. The case was placed there as all cases are for defendants.

Lamborne is out of jail awaiting trial having posted a $35,000 bond. 

Child porn suspect awaits possible indictment

Eric La’June Harrison Jr., 19, of Alexander City was arrested in October 2019 for dissemination of child pornography. His case is currently waiting for a presentation to a grand jury.

Alexander City Police Department investigators received a tip through a national network of law enforcement and agencies established to protect children.

“I’m a member of the Alabama Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force,” ACPD detective Drew Machen said in October 2019. “The task force received a cyber tip that this video had been flagged as uploaded and shared.”

Machen said Harrison uploaded a video to social media of a child under the age of 16 engaged in sexual activity.

Harrison is charged with dissemination or display of child pornography, a Class B felony. If convicted Harrison faces two to 20 years in prison. Harrison is free on a $20,000 bond.

McDaniel awaits appeal

Clate McDaniel was convicted of the murder of Norman Crayton in 2018 and sentenced to 40 years in prison. McDaniel has obtained another attorney and filed an appeal of his conviction with the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. 

The appellate court has not yet decided on the appeal.

Horton awaits trial for running over clerk

Dameyune Horton is charged with first-degree robbery and attempting to elude from an October 2018 incident where he allegedly struck a clerk trying to get away from a store on Hillabee Street.

“A black male subject went into a convenience store on Hillabee Street,” then-ACPD Cpl. Michael Howell said at the time. “He asked for two packs of cigarettes and the clerk placed them on the counter. The subject then ran out of the store and got into his vehicle. The clerk followed and grabbed the suspect through the window (of the vehicle). The suspect took off running over the clerk’s leg with the vehicle.”

Howell said the clerk was transported to Russell Medical then transferred to another hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The store had a video of the incident and it provided an image of the suspect for police to work with shortly after the robbery. Authorities arrested Horton just three hours after the incident.

Horton is currently free on a $25,000 bond.

Child sex abuse suspect waits for trial

Charles David Davis of Tallassee is awaiting trial after being arrested on child sex abuse charges in March 2019.

Davis was indicted in February 2019 on charges of sexual abuse of a child under 12 and three counts of first-degree sodomy.

The indictment said Davis subjected a child less than 12 to sexual contact and engaged in first-degree sodomy on three occasions.

Court records show Davis was out on a $10,000 bond for a 2018 theft arrest at the time of the sexual abuse arrest. Those records also show Davis pleaded guilty to theft in 2010 and has other burglary and theft arrests.

Davis is awaiting a mental evaluation before his theft case can proceed.

Davis is free on a $20,000 bond.

Moncrief awaits trial on electronic solicitation of a minor

Justin Chandler Moncrief, of Kellyton, awaits trial on two counts of electronic solicitation of a minor.

The Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigative Unit and a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) conducted an investigation regarding transmission of sexually explicit photograph of a 14-year-old female and electronic solicitation of a minor in April 2018. Moncrief was arrested and is free on a $50,000 bond.

The investigation showed Moncrief initiated communications to whom he believed was a 14-year-old girl on Facebook Messenger then sent her a sexually explicit photograph. t

Moncrief’s trial is set for June.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.