One of two people charged in connection with the Birmingham shooting deaths of 17-year-old twins, whose mother was also paralyzed in the incident, is connected to at least two other slayings.
Our Birmingham homicide defense lawyers know that any allegation of murder will require an aggressive defense. However, cases like this pose a unique challenge because a history of similar offenses can be used against a defendant in court, particularly during the sentencing phase.
However, just because one has a checkered past does not automatically mean that he or she is guilty of the crime at hand, a conclusion to which police too often make a cursory leap. Even at the initial stages of the investigation, our job is to not only ensure your rights are protected, but also to thoroughly research the case to determine whether police may be overlooking evidence that could lead to a different result.
Sometimes, police aren’t open to hearing that information, even if we find it. In that case, we make sure we’re fully prepared to present it before a judge and jury when the time comes. We strongly believe that a person’s past doesn’t define his future, and snap judgments aren’t appropriate in cases where someone is facing decades, possibly a lifetime, behind bars.
Still, there are some cases, this one included, where this may be an uphill battle.
The story starts about seven years ago. A 17-year-old and a 19-year-old became embroiled in a heated verbal dispute witnessed by a number of other individuals. The 17-year-old slapped the older teen. A friend of the 19-year-old’s handed him a gun. The 17-year-old drew his gun. Both fired at one another. A bullet grazed the 19-year-old’s shoulder. The younger teen was fatally shot in the chest.
The 19-year-old was tried on a charge of first-degree murder, but the jury, after deliberating about an hour, returned a lesser verdict of manslaughter. He also pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery. He was given 15 years and 10 years, respectively, with both terms to be served concurrently with credit for time served. He was out in 7 years.
That was late last year.
Then in March of this year, that same man, now 26, was arrested in connection with a fatal shooting of a 31-year-old man about a half a mile from a high school. Witnesses said there was a verbal altercation of some kind between the suspect and the victim, but the exact nature of that argument remains unknown.
The defendant was charged with murder, but released on bond just four days later.
That brings us to the slayings of the 17-year-old twins from Wylam, and the serious injury of their mother. Police say the teens were not the intended target. They were inside their home playing video games when police say the suspect and possibly two others broke into the home, ransacked it and fatally shot the teens.
The boys’ mother was reportedly pulling into the driveway and was confronted by one of the men, who shot her in the back. Her spinal cord was severed and it is believed she will be paralyzed for life.
The police investigation led them to this same man who was out on bond for the March homicide. A 21-year-old woman has also been charged with murder. While it is not believed she was in the home or even wielded a firearm, she allegedly drove the getaway car.
The twins’ mother denies knowing the identity of any of the suspects.