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Thread: Death Penalty Trial Set for August 2, 2017 for Dewayne Oneal Hicks in 2013 AL Murder of James Patrick Travers II

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    Death Penalty Trial Set for August 2, 2017 for Dewayne Oneal Hicks in 2013 AL Murder of James Patrick Travers II





    DA says he'll pursue death penalty in capital murder case

    By Evan Belanger
    The Decatur Daily

    Prosecutors will pursue the death penalty if a Morgan County jury convicts Dewayne Oneal Hicks of capital murder for the 2013 slaying of James Patrick Travers II during an alleged robbery attempt, said District Attorney Scott Anderson.

    Jury selection for Hicks’ trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 2, with opening remarks by attorneys slated for Aug. 7, according to court records and attorneys involved in the case.

    Hicks’ court-appointed attorneys, Brian White and Griff Belser, declined to discuss details of the case this week, citing the seriousness of the charges, but said they are prepared to go to trial next month and do not foresee any delays.

    Hicks, 26, of Madison, is one of three men charged with capital murder in the slaying that occurred during an apparent botched robbery attempt at Travers’ home.

    One of the defendants, Ryan O’neal Caudle, 25, of Decatur, already has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of felony murder. He was given a life sentence in exchange for the guilty plea and his agreement that he testify against the remaining defendants in the case, according to the DA’s office.

    The third defendant, Charles K. Makekau, 28, of Decatur, is scheduled for trial Oct. 25 on a charge of capital murder for his alleged role as the planner of the robbery.

    If convicted of capital murder, state law only allows for two possible sentences: death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Anderson was not prepared to say whether his office would pursue the death penalty against Makekau if he is convicted of capital murder.

    “We’ll just take them one case at a time,” he said.

    According to the sworn affidavit of Decatur Police Detective Michael Burleson, police responded to a 911 call reporting a burglary in progress at Travers' home on the night of June 18, 2013.

    The caller, Jasmine Sharpley, said two men entered the home at 1402 Mitchell Pines Trail S.E. while she and Travers were in bed and demanded money, according to the affidavit. At least one of the men was armed with a rifle, Burleson swore in the affidavit.

    The two men pulled Travers from his bed, and one took him downstairs. Moments later, Sharpley said she heard a gunshot and was escorted downstairs by the other man, according to the affidavit.

    The two men fled the scene together, and a passerby discovered Travers’ body lying at the edge of U.S. 31, about 30 yards from his residence, minutes after the 911 call, Burleson swore.

    The affidavit does not specify how police identified Caudle and Hicks as suspects, but said they became suspects in the initial stages of the investigation. It also said Caudle had taken possession of a .30-caliber carbine rifle hours before the murder and that the two men went to the residence about seven hours before the incident and conducted a “practice run” of the robbery.

    Caudle was arrested in Detroit on July 29, 2013, and provided a written statement detailing how he and Hicks planned, practiced and executed the robbery and claimed Hicks was the one armed with the .30-caliber rifle and the one who shot Travers, according to the affidavit.

    Hicks gave a conflicting statement when he was brought in for questioning the next day, claiming he and Caudle planned and practiced the robbery but backed out when he found out who the target was and spent the entire night with a friend. That alibi was “refuted by the witness,” according to the affidavit.

    The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Hoover determined a bullet removed from Travers’ body during an autopsy was a .30-caliber carbine projectile, according the affidavit.

    In a separate affidavit, Burleson swore Makekau said during questioning that he had come up with the plan to burglarize Travers' home, giving Caudle the disarm code for the alarm system and telling him there would be a large amount of cash at the residence.

    Makekau told police he was to be paid a portion of the money from the home and that he had texted Caudle at 2 a.m. the night of the incident to ask what happened, according to the affidavit.

    “I didn’t get nothing, he ran,” was Caudle’s response, according to the affidavit.

    Hicks and Makekau are being held in the Morgan County Jail without bail.

    http://www.decaturdaily.com/news/mor...9efbfb1c5.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

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    Hicks capital murder trial continued

    By Evan Belanger
    The Decatur Daily

    A capital murder trial has been continued after one of the state’s material witnesses refused to cooperate, according to a defense attorney involved in the case.

    Jury selection was to begin Wednesday in Morgan County Circuit in the trial of Dewayne Oneal Hicks, 26, of Madison. Hicks is charged with capital murder in the 2013 shooting death of James Patrick Travers II during a botched robbery at the victim’s Southeast Decatur home.

    Ryan O’neal Caudle, 25, of Decatur, a co-defendant in the case, was expected to testify against Hicks as part of a plea deal that sentenced him to life imprisonment but avoided a possible death penalty.

    Brian White, a defense attorney for Hicks, said in response to questions today that Caudle was refusing to testify and had asked the court to set aside his August 2016 guilty plea. If approved, the move would have Caudle go to trial on a charge of capital murder.

    “As of today, a chief witness against Dewayne, and possibly an essential witness, is refusing to testify,” White said.

    District Attorney Scott Anderson was not available for comment. White said a court hearing to determine whether the court has jurisdiction to set aside Caudle’s guilty plea is set for Aug. 16.

    Attorneys for Caudle were not available for comment. The Hicks case has been continued for an unspecified period, White said.

    Caudle also was expected to testify against a third defendant, Charles K. Makekau, 28, of Decatur, who is charged with arranging the robbery and sharing Travers' alarm system code with the other defendants.

    All three are charged with capital murder and could face the death penalty.

    http://www.decaturdaily.com/news/mor...fdbc38b37.html

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    Defense attorneys seek to drop murder defendant on ethical grounds

    By Evan Belanger
    The Decatur Daily

    Attorneys for a Decatur man who pleaded guilty to murder are attempting to drop their client on ethical grounds after he refused to testify against a co-defendant in accordance with his plea agreement.

    Meanwhile, attorneys for the co-defendant have renewed efforts to set bail for the client, arguing the state's case lacks merit without the witness testimony.

    Ryan O’neal Caudle, 25, of Decatur, pleaded guilty to felony murder in August 2016 and was sentenced to life in prison in return for the state dismissing a charge of capital murder, which carried the possibility of the death penalty.

    As part of the plea deal, Caudle was expected to testify against co-defendant Dewayne Oneal Hicks, 26, of Madison, in the 2013 shooting death of James Patrick Travers II during a botched robbery at the victim’s Southeast Decatur home.

    That capital-murder trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but Caudle refused to testify.

    “The court is advised that the Defendant, Ryan Caudle, wishes to withdraw his plea of guilt,” wrote Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson in a court order assigning attorneys Larry Madison and Christy Miller, Caudle’s original legal team, to represent him in his request to withdraw his plea.

    A hearing on that issue is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday in Morgan County Circuit Court, but Caudle’s attorneys have filed a motion to withdraw from the case.

    “The undersigned feel ethically obligated to withdraw from representation rather than arguing against enforcement of an agreement they negotiated in good faith believing the Defendant would honor it,” they said in their motion.

    Thompson had not yet ruled on the motion as of Wednesday afternoon.

    Miller declined to comment, referring questions to first-chair attorney Madison, who could not be reached for comment.

    District Attorney Scott Anderson also was not available Wednesday. Anderson said last week that prosecutors would pursue a capital-murder charge against Caudle if the court would allow it.

    Hicks’ trial has been delayed for an unspecified period while the issue is resolved.

    Anderson said prosecutors plan to bring Caudle to trial first, noting Caudle already had confessed to his role in the crime.

    In response to Caudle’s refusal to testify, attorneys for Hicks have renewed efforts to get bail set for their client, arguing it would be unfair for Hicks to remain incarcerated while Caudle's complex case is worked out and that the prosecution's case against Hicks is "irremediably lacking" without Caudle's testimony.

    In a flurry of motions Tuesday, they pointed out there was no audio or video recording of Caudle’s four-hour interrogation with Decatur police in Michigan, called Caudle’s statement identifying Hicks as the one who shot Travers “improbable,” and requested the state to disclose all events that led to Caudle’s refusal to testify.

    “Considering the on-again, off-again cooperation, it is fair to infer that Mr. Caudle disavows the truth of all or some of what appears in the statement, including what he said about Dewayne Hicks,” one motion read.

    Brian White, lead counsel for Hicks, said Caudle was a "key witness" in the prosecution’s case against Hicks.

    Hicks has been in custody at the Morgan County Jail for five years.

    "He's going to be stuck in there while all this stuff plays out about whether the guilty plea can be set aside," White said Wednesday.

    Caudle was arrested in Detroit on July 29, 2013, and provided a statement detailing how he and Hicks planned, practiced and executed the robbery and claiming Hicks was the one armed with a .30-caliber rifle and the one who shot Travers, according to a police affidavit.

    Hicks gave a conflicting statement when he was brought in for questioning the next day, claiming he and Caudle planned and practiced the robbery, but he backed out when he found out who the target was and spent the entire night with a friend. That alibi was “refuted by the witness,” according to the affidavit.

    The affidavit does not specify how police identified Caudle and Hicks as suspects, but said they became suspects in the initial stages of the investigation. It also said Caudle had taken possession of a .30-caliber carbine rifle hours before the murder and that the two men went to the residence about seven hours before the incident and conducted a “practice run” of the robbery.

    Caudle also was expected to testify against a third defendant, Charles K. Makekau, 28, of Decatur, who is charged with capital murder for allegedly arranging the robbery and sharing Travers’ alarm system code with the other defendants.

    http://www.decaturdaily.com/news/mor...b65266df1.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

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    Caudle gets new attorney after refusing to testify, complains about jail

    By Crystal Vander Weit
    The Decatur Daily

    Advancing into unmapped legal territory, a Morgan County judge allowed two attorneys to withdraw from a murder case on ethical grounds after their client accepted a plea deal and then refused to testify against his co-defendants as he promised.

    In an order Tuesday afternoon, Circuit Judge Glen Thompson relieved attorneys Larry Madison and Christy Miller of their responsibility representing Ryan O’neal Caudle.

    “We negotiated the deal in good faith and fully anticipated he was going to carry through with it,” Madison said prior to Thompson’s ruling. “In order to represent him, I would have to go back and say I know we made a deal, but it’s unenforceable, and you can’t make him testify, which puts me in an ethical dilemma.”

    Caudle, 25, of Decatur, pleaded guilty to felony murder in August 2016 and was sentenced to life in prison in return for the state dismissing a charge of capital murder, which carried the possibility of the death penalty.

    As part of the deal, Caudle agreed to testify against co-defendant Dewayne Oneal Hicks, 26, of Madison, in the 2013 shooting death of James Patrick Travers II during a botched robbery at the victim’s southeast Decatur home.

    But Caudle refused to testify when Hicks’ capital murder case came up for trial this month, causing prosecutors to delay the case and request that the court set aside Caudle’s previous sentence so they can again charge him with capital murder.

    “He got the benefit of his agreement, but we didn’t get ours,” Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said this week.

    The case is breaking new ground for local attorneys who say there is little precedent in state law for what to do when a defendant who takes a plea bargain refuses to comply with his part of the deal.

    Asked how unusual it was after a hearing Wednesday to appoint Caudle a new attorney, Chief Assistant District Attorney Paul Matthews responded only, “Very.”

    Thompson said during the hearing that local attorney Brent Burney, who was not present, had agreed to take on Caudle’s case. Burney represented Cassandra Rayann Eldred when she pleaded guilty to felony murder in the 2011 slayings of two Krystal employees.

    He also represented Darrius Oneal Sherrod when he was found guilty in the 2010 capital murder of 19-year-old Matthew Jackson.

    Thompson told Caudle that Burney was a “fine lawyer” who was “experienced in these matters.” He said Burney was out of town but would be back that night and would see Caudle right away.

    Wearing handcuffs and ankle shackles, Caudle sat alone at the defense table, across the courtroom from the victim’s mother, Rebecca Trevors, who was seated with prosecutors.

    Caudle spoke only twice during the hearing — once to tell the judge he had filled out his form requesting a court-appointed attorney accurately and once to complain when Thompson ordered that he be held at the Morgan County Jail until the state’s motion is resolved.

    “The county jail is not working in my favor,” he said.

    “Well, I’m so sorry. That’s beyond your control,” Thompson responded.

    Caudle has been in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections and was only transported back to Morgan County to testify against Hicks.

    Matthews said during the hearing that Caudle told prosecutors his family planned to hire him an attorney, but Thompson said he did not wish to delay proceedings and would relieve Burney if the family hires an attorney.

    Caudle also was expected to testify against a third defendant, Charles K. Makekau, 28, of Decatur, who is charged with capital murder for allegedly arranging the robbery and sharing Travers’ alarm system code with the other defendants.

    http://www.decaturdaily.com/news/mor...af338e6bb.html
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    “There are some people who just do not deserve to live,”
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

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