The Peacemaker: One Mobile Son’s Chance Encounter during 1985 Mardi Gras

He was only 17 years old, a high school senior, and he came downtown that night to watch the Infant Mystics (IMs) parade. He was a good boy; he went to church regularly, made decent grades, had parents who loved him and he loved them. At 119 pounds, he was the last person you would expect to be involved in any trouble. He’d never even been to the principal’s office. Before the evening was over, however, trouble would find him, but a chance encounter with a Mobile police officer changed him forever.

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Chance Encounter during the 1985 Infant Mystic Parade

It was February 18, 1985 and the young man came down to the Sheraton Inn Hotel (now the Holiday Inn on Government street) to watch the IM’s. As the IM’s rolled through town that night, the young man would notice some of his high school buddies behind the barricades. As the floats and marching bands passed by, a friend nearby sailed a Lookout Moon-pie into the band. Seeing a nearby officer, the “friend” and his entourage immediately darted in to the Mobile evening and were lost in the crowd. The crowd parted to reveal the young man. Having done nothing wrong, the young man stood still. A nearby police officer looked at the young man, and pointed at him. The young man pointed at himself and responded, “Who, me?” The officer shook his head and motioned for him to come to the barricade. The young man obeyed and as he reached the barricade, the officer yanked him over the barricade and arrested him.  The police officer snatched the young man with such force that it catapulted him into the street, where the officer shoved a Billy club into his neck.

Shortly after this, the paddy wagon drove up and the young man disappeared into it. For the first time in his life, the young man was arrested. Pleas of his actual innocence went ignored. His father had left the parade earlier and was eating dinner with the young man’s mother at The Bienville Club. With no cell phone and betrayed by his so-called friends, he was all on his own, left only to face an angry police officer who presumed his guilt. This was quite a lonely place to be for any innocent accused, much less this 119-pound high school senior. His mind raced and terror gripped him.

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Lookout Moonpie

The paddy wagon was unusually clean for this late in the Mardi Gras season. Expecting an immediate trip to jail, the young man was surprised by the delay as he sat in the back of the paddy wagon . A call over the radio came in that there was a stabbing at the Government Street McDonald’s and that several adult suspects were in custody. Since the young man was a minor, arrangements had to be made to transfer him out of the paddy wagon to make room for the adult suspects.  The paddy wagon driver notified a nearby squad car, “we have a juvenile; we’re gonna put him in a squad a car.” His ears perked up and he thought, “Yeah, put me in a squad car!”

Soon, the paddy wagon came to a stop, and back door swung open to reveal a middle-aged man who seemed different, in a good way.  This officer took the young man by the arm and then let him go.  The officer instructed the young man, “Walk around the car and get in the front seat.” The young man was shocked, “Don’t you need to walk with me?” The officer responded, “Just get you butt in the car.” And that’s how they met. The officer let this young man sit in the front seat with him – no questions asked and no handcuffs. The boy, sensing an officer who would listen and hear him, pitched his woeful tale of wrong place, wrong time and his actual innocence. The officer let him speak, and he listened. This officer seemed very interested in the young man’s protest of actual innocence. Call it compassion, call it sympathy, call it whatever, but the boy now felt at ease. The terror which had gripped the young man since his arrest slowly subsided. Hearing the boy out, the officer uttered the unbelievable – “Young man, I believe you. And if what you are telling me is the truth, you will have nothing to worry about.” The boy couldn’t believe his ears. Finally, someone believed that he was really innocent. However, the officer explained to him that it was protocol for him to accept the arresting officer’s decision to arrest at this point, “We have to take the arresting officer’s word.” If this officer had any discretion in the matter, he very well may have driven the young man home. The officer was stern, but he was fair. The boy was at least resigned to his fate now, but had hope that this officer believed him and would help him.

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Mobile Press Register February 17, 1985

The conversation drifted off to matters wholly unrelated to why these two of God’s creatures were called together that evening. The officer had to wait for the parade to end, so the two talked as equals (at least that is how the officer spoke and behaved with the young man). It was remarkable if you think about it. Up until this moment, the two were strangers. He was a police officer and the young man was his prisoner, but the officer spoke to the young man as an adult, and as someone who genuinely was interested in the young man. The boy detected his concern and compassion. The officer even confided that after his many years on the police force, his retirement was just a few months away, and that he and his wife had just purchased an RV and planned on taking a cross country trip together.  The officer asked the young man what his plans for the future were. They discussed high school graduation and college, and the relationship ripened from one of a custodial encounter to one of compassion and mutual respect. This officer was a really special person, and certainly an unexpected stroke of luck for the young man to encounter in one of the darker hours of his life.

Eventually the parade ended, the crowds dispersed, and this officer transported the young man to the closest precinct. Once his guardian angel of sorts dropped him off, the young man never saw him again. The arresting officer was there, who then transported him to Strickland Youth Center. Ultimately, charges were never brought against the young man as the intake officer released him to his father.

The young man was never arrested again, and has gone on to become a successful businessman here in town with a family of his own. I suspect many of you may know him. That chance encounter with this Mobile Police officer who believed in him and his innocence has stuck with him all these years. The young man, now adult, has never forgotten the officer or how divine intervention brought the two together that night.

Just 60 days later, on April 18, 1985, this same officer, Julius Schulte, was gunned down on the brink of retirement in a horrible ambush killing.

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Julius Schulte

The young boy remembers reading the newspaper the next morning and screaming, “No!” Although he only knew the man for about 45 minutes during a chance encounter, his pain was real and profound. Officer Schulte made a lifelong, positive impact on this man in such a short amount of time, and even in a life cut short, I can only imagine how many lives he changed for the better.

Blessed are the Peacemakers.

Matt Green
Matt Green is a former assistant district attorney who prosecuted major felonies and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He served as a municipal court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland. He is President of the Mobile Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies.

 

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My Friend Ken, and Momma Gray

That Thursday April morning began just as the rest of his days at the Budget Inn Motel on Government Street in downtown Mobile. Spring was here and Ken was up and out by 6:45AM, crossing Government Street to McDonald’s for his usual oatmeal breakfast. He would look through the window and watch the world in all its hurry, hustle, and bustle pass by. His mind then drifted to Momma Gray, his furry feline friend who was for all purposes his only family. After breakfast, he made his “catwalk” to find and feed Momma Gray. He loved that old cat. He usually fed her twice a day, once in the morning and again later in the afternoon.  Usually, as lunch would roll around, Ken would visit Popeyes just down the street and order his  2-piece mild with cole-slaw (they give senior discounts, usually 10%). He would routinely dine in, for it was a respite from the old Budget Inn. After lunch, he would return to his room and hang out for a while, watch some TV, and later take a walk to find Momma Gray. Ken would come back to his room late afternoon or early evening. He usually skipped dinner and would turn in early, but today would be different.

I first met Ken routinely walked by my office in the early afternoon hours with a sleeve of turkey. I thought it odd at first.  I figured he must live in the area. And then I would sometimes see him in the morning. Ken, I would later learn, was the son of a World War I veteran. Ken, like his father, served his country. Ken signed up for service when he was just 18 years old. He moved to Mobile because of the beautiful buildings and homes. He was in Air Force for 10 years and later in the Navy  for 3 years . While in the Navy, he served in Scotland and Japan during the height of the Cold War. As a communications technician, he monitored Russians.

He sauntered at his own pace as his years seemed to suggest he was on his own time. My curiosity ended when I saw him in my office parking lot feeding a grey stray cat one afternoon. Her name was Momma Gray, and boy did Ken love that cat. I would see Ken so frequently that I finally invited him in for lunch motivated every bit as much by the curiosity as the hospitality. He always politely declined. My mother, who works with us, really took a liking to Ken. After a few months, Ken became a regular. If we missed seeing Ken, we would be worried something happened to him. Alas, our worries would subside when we would see him the next day. The only creature  who showed more affection than my mother to ole Ken, was Momma Gray.  Momma Gray had many food suitors, but that cat would curl up around Ken’s legs and purr her way into his heart every time I saw them together. Ken loved her, and she loved him, or his turkey.

Soon, I learned that Ken lived just down the street from my office at The Budget Inn Motel on Government Street. I knew then that Ken must be on a fixed income, and at times I worried for his safety. The Budget Inn Motel has been the source of many a moment of high drama in the neighborhood. Just ask the Mobile Police Department and/or Mobile Fire Rescue who have responded to the facility before. Just two months before this, SWAT team members were called to this Budget Inn after a man made threat to local law enforcement and called WPMI NBC 15 promising to “shoot someone to get on TV.”

In April 2016, a white male chased 2 females through the front gate of my office. The females were screaming and the male was yelling that the females had robbed him. Shortly thereafter, the male fell on the sidewalk in front of my office and began seizing. We rushed over to help him, but not before one of the females yelled, “be careful, he’s got HIV!”

 

It was quite an afternoon, as we called 911 and waited for police and emergency responders. While waiting, I noticed a 12 pack of Icehouse beer overturned near the front porch of my office. I guess those must have been too important for them to leave behind at the Budget Inn where they all were staying.

Continue reading My Friend Ken, and Momma Gray

“I Will Take It Out In Blood” & other wild testimony in Mobile Municipal Court

Some cases stick on out more than others from my years on the Mobile Municipal Court Bench. Perhaps it was the incendiary nature of the accused’s threat to take his vengeance “out in blood,” or maybe it was the alleged victim’s candid admission that the accused was his crack dealer that stick out in my memory. Regardless, this was the case that landed on my trial docket this month in 2010.

As is true in all criminal cases where the imposition of incarceration is possible and where the accused is determined legally indigent, the accused (whom I will call Stephen) was appointed counsel to represent him on the charge of Harassment. The complainant who I will call Robert swore under oath to the following in his deposition to the municipal court magistrate:

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Robert left out some critical omissions in his bill of particulars against Stephen as I would soon find out. Robert testified first pitching his tale about how he was unfairly and wrongly targeted by Steven who thought Robert stole his bicycle. Robert testified Steven sought him out on the streets of downtown Mobile, eventually finding his tent. Robert testified Steven then ransacked his humble abode and personal effects.  Steven put it out on the street that he was going to kill Robert. This rightly alarmed poor Robert who promptly sought Steven out to see what all the fuss was over. Robert found Steven who made no qualms with him about what the beef was over. If Robert didn’t return his bike within 24 hours Steven would “take it out in blood.”

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Next came cross-examination, “beyond any doubt the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” 5 J. Wigmore, Evidence § 1367, p. 32 (J. Chadbourn rev. 1974).  Steven’s attorney asked Robert about how he had the good fortune to become acquainted with Robert. To his credit, Robert candidly admitted that he would buy his crack cocaine from Steven at a local bar.  When asked if he was under the influence on the day in question, again Robert candidly admitted he had been drinking on the day of the event.Slide5

The city rested it’s case. The defense then called Steven to testify. Steven said he lived under the I-165 bridge and that this forum of a court of law to resolve dispute resolutions was foreign to him as the code of conduct on the street mandated a different course of action.  Steven testified that he bought his bike, possibly a Mongoose, for $36 from Wal-Mart and in a rather poignant moment confessed, “I’ll never forget that bike.” He was also quite sure Robert stole his bike as he saw Robert riding the bike after it turned up missing.  Steven admitted to threatening to kick his a**.

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After hearing the case and evaluating the credibility of the witnesses and the totality of the circumstances, the Court had a reasonable doubt as to what exactly transpired and entered a finding of NOT GUILTY, instructing the parties to have no further contact with one another.

I still wonder, what ever happened to that bike? And I, like Steven, will never forget that bike.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He represents members of law enforcement injured by drunk and careless drivers.  He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at mattgreenlaw@comcast.net

police academy lecture

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

 

 

Dennis Coburn, Suspect in Assault of BCSO Deputy, Turns Himself In

Some of you may have read about  21-year old Dennis Coburn from the Summerdale area who has been listed as the suspect who collided with a Baldwin County deputy early Saturday morning. The Crash looks like significant impact with the deputy’s cruiser taking the brunt of the energy from the much larger truck.

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Photo released by BCSO

The  incident occurred around 1 am Saturday morning, after a Baldwin County sheriff’s deputy witnessed a white Ford truck commit a traffic infraction. Reports indicate Coburn ran a 4-way stop at the intersection of County Roads 87 and 32.  The deputy attempted to stop Coburn, when Coburn fled.

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Intersection of Co. Roads 32 and 87.

The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release:

As the Deputy approached the vehicle attempted to head north and then rammed the Deputy head on. The suspect jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot,” said a BCSO News Release.

Of course this is not Coburn’s first run in with the authorities. He pled guilty by means of an information  pursuant to Ala. Code 15-15-20.1 (1975)  to a felony charge of Criminal Mischief, 1st Degree.

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Criminal Mischief, 1st Degree Criminal complaint filed against Coburn

An information is an alternative charging instrument made under oath of the district attorney or a witness, and accuses the defendant with the same specificity as required in an indictment of the offense or offenses for which the defendant is charged) It is a quick and expedient way to reach a resolution to a criminal charge between the accused and the State.

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Dennis Coburn

In his pretrial diversion application, Coburn was required to give a statement of facts and his culpability in the charged offense. He allocuted as follows:

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In exchange for his guilty plea, Coburn was allowed to enter into a pretrial diversion program for three years with the Baldwin County District Attorney’s office. Provided he was not arrested for any new offense, paid restitution, and paid the costs of court among other conditions, his case would be nolle prossed with no criminal conviction.

Then, 2017 arrived and with it a new City of Foley DUI arrest for Coburn. The State then moved to adjudicate him (revoke his pretrial diversion program).

MOTION TO ADJUDICATE

Ultimately the judge sent him to jail and ordered him to complete 40 hours of community service. Coburn was released from jail on April 23, 2017. On June 22, 2017, Coburn’s completion of community service was filed with the Court.

Coburn remained at large for over 24 hours.

Coburn will face charges for assault, 2nd degree and attempting to elude police. Leaving the Scene of an Accident with injuries may be an additional appropriate charge.

UPDATE:

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It has just been reported by WKRG that Coburn has turned himself in today at the Robertsdale Police Department:

I hope for the deputy’s sake that Coburn has automobile insurance, as restitution for our law enforcement officers in cases like this (in addition to the worker’s compensation coverage) will certainly help in the recovery and rehabilitation process. We do not yet know the extent of the deputy’s injuries, but the crime scene picture indicates a significant impact.

Exactly why Coburn fled the scene is a mystery. Prayers are with deputy and his family for a speedy recovery.

Point of Interest:

A quick scan of Coburn’s Facebook page reveal posts encouraging Coburn to turn himself in.

crop- rather tired than broke

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He represents members of law enforcement injured by drunk and careless drivers.  He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at mattgreenlaw@comcast.net

police academy lecture

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

 

 

Not Again… The Meredith Baxley Tragedy

NOT AGAIN…

The phone rang that early Saturday morning. Earlier than my usual Saturday client calls; early enough to get your attention. When I saw the name flash on my iPhone I immediately answered. “Hello, Matt. You need to get over here. One of the girls in our apartment complex was struck and killed in front of our complex by a drunk driver last night.” And that’s how it started. No name, no age, no  details on happened other than that. Her roommate was devastated and I needed to get over there and explain to him what to expect. I had yet to discover the tragic story of Meredith Baxley.

As a former prosecutor (who prosecuted traffic homicides and drunk drivers) and judge (where I presided over many DUI trials and defendants) I had a good idea what I should expect; there are certain patterns that seem to occur. The drunk driver who hit and killed the victim probably survived the crash. He probably had prior run ins with law enforcement. The victim was probably a very vulnerable and beautiful young person or elderly person needlessly struck down, and both families of the victim and the defendant would be devastated. These seem to be almost a given in many cases.

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Meredith’s Wheelchair

I arrived on the scene at Cabana Apartments to find Meredith’s roommate distraught . It was clear to me that his grief was both profound and sincere.  When I looked around the apartment, I noticed an old motorized scooter, and it was then that her roommate told me it belonged to Meredith, a young woman still in her 30’s. I was curious though. Why a young woman in her 30’s was in a wheelchair?

“It was a bad wreck”

Judge Johnston,

My name is Robert Prichard, case number 2007-002956. I entered a blind-plea to the charge of Assault 1st in your courtroom on August 29, 2008. My sentencing date is set for September 29, 2008. This is my first Felony charge. It was a bad wreck and I will have to live with that on my conscience for the rest of my life. I can not begin to explain how sorry I am for getting behind the wheel that night. I have a bad drug and alcohol problem and I was wondering if there is any way to get sentenced to a Drug-Rehab or some type of Alternative Sentencing so that I might be able to be close to home when my fiance has my son. I have three kids and one on the way, due in February of 2009. It this is at all possible, I would greatly appreciate it. One last chance is all I need and I will never be back in trouble again. I feel that I have learned my lesson but I need some help getting over the drug addiction. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Robert A. Prichard

 

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Prichard mailed this letter to Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston on the eve of his sentencing. He had entered a blind plea, which meant that there was no negotiated plea with the district attorney’s office. His plea would be blind, that is not knowing what his sentence would be. He would be completely at the mercy of Judge Johnston. The letter is still part of the court file after nearly a decade.  Prichard made bond and was placed on electronic monitoring on September 14, 2017. However that didn’t go so well as he was back in jail after violating the conditions of his bond by testing positive for alcohol on July 23, 2008 and then testing positive for cocaine, marijuana, and benzodiazepines.

VIOLATED ELECTRONIC MONITORING

The Bad Wreck

ACCIDENT DIAGRAM

It was New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2006 at approximately 9:35 when Mr. Prichard forever changed the life of several motorists on Dawes Lane near Dutchman Woods Drive that evening. Prichard was driving drunk that night when he crossed the center line and slammed head on into Meredith Baxley, a 1997 McGill-Toolen graduate and mother of two young children.

After injuring Baxley, Prichard plowed into two vehicles behind Meredith. The state trooper noted in his accident report that Prichard (Driver 1) later stated that his memory was not too good.

I JUST REMEMBER HAVING A WRECK

Meredith’s injuries were serious. She was transported from the scene by USA Lifeflight.

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Now I know this beautiful young woman was  in a wheelchair. Meredith struggled over the next decade to find her way in the world. Prichard had denied her of  life as she knew it, her mobility, her job, and most importantly her independence. Meredith’s mother would raise her children as she attempted to gain her independence.

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Robert Prichard Facebook Photo

Looking back, Robert was right about two things- he indeed had a bad alcohol and drug problem, and it was a bad wreck. Curiously he never mentioned Meredith or her children or family by name in his letter. Ultimately, Robert was shipped off to the state penitentiary, served his time and was released. As part of his probation upon release, Mobile County Circuit Court Judge  ordered Prichard to attend and complete a DUI victim impact panel and to give presentations to McGill High School students on the dangers of drunk driving.  Meredith later posted on her facebook page that both she and Prichard attended McGill High School.

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Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Joseph “Rusty” Johnston revoked Prichard’s bond and later sentenced him to the state penitentiary

Meanwhile, Meredith’s struggles continued. Her life and family  were left forever changed. As anyone who has experienced the ravages of a traumatic brain injury can attest, the physical therapy was grueling and the toll exacted was a heavy one.

 

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Meredith and her mother Christine Frohock

February 5, 2017

She was just going to make a run across the street to the Dollar General.  That night she crossed Azalea Boulevard on her motorized scooter from The Crossings at Pinebrook. She often cut through the parking lots from her neighboring apartment complex at Cabana.

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She made it to the Dollar General, and was on her way home when another driver sped in to her life.

MELVIN ORLANDO MARTIN

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Melvin “Orlando” Martin is no stranger to the criminal justice system. A convicted felon, Martin had prior arrests for attempted murder, assault,  robbery, domestic violence possession of a pistol without a permit, reckless endangerment, false name to police, marijuana possession. He was ultimately convicted of two counts of robbery and sent off to the penitentiary. DOC classified him as a violent offender, pushing his parole eligibility date back, and prohibiting other perks such as work release.DENIED

So he sued the Alabama Department of Corrections.

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Melvin Martin Complaint suing the Alabama Department of Corrections

And he wanted some money too. He requested $189,820 in compensatory damages.

relief requestd $189,820

Melvin, just like the other driver who injured Meredith, was ultimately released from prison.  Melvin was back behind the wheel of a car as he barreled down Azalea Boulevard into poor Meredith Baxley on February 3, 2017.  Poor Meredith never had a chance. One drunk driver incapacitated her and finally another killed her. Police say Melvin was driving drunk and speeding when he ran over Meredith in her scooter. They say they found marijuana in has car too. They arrested him for manslaughter and possession of marijuana, 2nd degree. Traffic Homicide officer Jonathan Mixon was assigned the task of notifying Meredith’s family. Melvin was arrested,  made bond, and placed on electronic monitoring. He was released a free man. Some men just can’t handle freedom though. And Melvin was a prime example.

The Preliminary Hearing 

Thursday May 25, 2017 arrived and Melvin Martin appeared in court from jail. The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office brought manslaughter and possession of marijuana, 2nd degree charges. Melvin gingerly walked into the courtroom escorted by a corrections officer. Melvin had violated the terms and conditions of his bond after he was arrested on May 6, 2017 for assaulting a police officer, public intoxication, and domestic violence. The state asked the judge to revoke the bonds he made in Meredith’s case because of the new arrests.

At the preliminary hearing the state was represented by Ashley Rich, the district attorney. Ashley called Traffic Homicide investigator Jonathan Mixon. Mixon testified that he was called to the scene of the crash. When he arrived on the scene he first saw Martin in the back of a patrol car. Mixon spoke with Martin and Mixon smelled the odor of alcohol, notice bloodshot eyes and Martin exhibited poor balance (all cues of impairment). Mixon read the implied consent to Martin asking him to consent to a blood draw. Martin refused, so Mixon had to draft a search warrant which a judge approved. The judge ordered two samples of the defendant’s blood be drawn. Armed with the search warrant, Mixon arrived at USA hospital. When confronted with the order, Martin responded, “No one will stick a needle in my arm.” Mixon testified Martin was uncooperative to the extent that Martin had to be restrained so the medical personnel could extract his blood. Apparently this scene was captured on one of the officer’s body cameras.

Martin Toxicology Results

Mixon testified he took two blood samples. The first sample he took at 9:50PM and the second sample he took at 10:50PM. The blood was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science Department. The defendant’s first sample result was 0.21. The second sample was 0.19. A driver is presumed under the influence of alcohol in the State of Alabama if he is blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or more by weight of alcohol.

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Mixon testified that he was able to secure the event data recorder from Martin’s vehicle. After securing a search warrant, Mixon downloaded the data that showed that at the moment of impact, Martin was traveling 56.7 mph. The posted limit in the area was 35mph. Mixon said there were no skid marks before impact. Mixon testified that officers discovered a green plant like material during an inventory of Martin’s vehicle which the Department of Forensic Sciences identified as marijuana.

On cross-examination, Martin’s attorney David Barnett (an accomplished veteran attorney who always fights hard for his clients) got Mixon to concede that Meredith was not in a cross walk when she was crossing Azalea Boulevard and that she was not wearing “contrasting clothing.” Barnett asked how the lighting in the area was, since Mixon testified he believed the accident occurred at 6:45PM. Martin refused to give a statement to the police.

It was Mixon’s conclusion that Martin’s intoxication and speed caused Meredith’s death. The judge found probable cause to bind the case over to the grand jury.

Martin’s New Arrests While on Bond for Killing Meredith

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Ashley Rich next called two officers to testify as to how Martin had violated his bond by getting arrested again for Assault, 2nd Degree, Resisting Arrest, Domestic Violence,3rd Degree and Public Intoxication. Curiously I noted the first officer who testified hobbled to the podium on cruches and an AOC boot on. The District Attorney’s Office received notice from Mobile Community Corrections that the defendant had violated the terms of his bond. Ashley Rich asked the judge to revoke the defendant’s bond because of this.

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The responding police officer testified that police were called to a residence of a female who reported  Martin was harassing her. The female had subpoenaed Martin to take a blood test to confirm his paternity of her child. Martin came to her residence that day, May 6, 2017 to see his baby. The female victim told police that Martin took her baby that day. Eventually she got her baby back but Martin had returned to her house demanding to see the child and was harassing her. Police responded but by the time they arrived, Martin was gone. The female said Martin was wearing a white tanktop and sweat pants. Officers left and just happened to see a male matching Martin’s description at a gas station with a brown bag with what appeared to be a bottle in it. When this man saw the police, he walked behind the station (testimony revealed that he was attempting to avoid them). Police followed the man, who was shirtless but wearing grey sweatpants, but noticeably missing the brown paper bag.

The officer with the boot and on crutches continued on in his testimony. Since the man was similar to the description of Martin, he approached the male and asked him his name.

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“You don’t need to know my name. What is YOUR name? I know the law. I know my rights!”

The man responded, “You don’t need to know my name. What is YOUR name? I know the law. I know my rights!” The officer testified that he was loud and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The man had slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes. When the officer attempted to handcuff the man, he forcibly resisted and the officer and man fell to the ground. Ultimately, after the man was arrested police found a white tank top in his grey sweat pants. On his ankle police discovered an electronic monitoring device. Police transported the female complainant to the scene and she positively identified the man as Melvin Martin. After falling to the ground with the defendant, the officer  was hurt. Paramedics were called to the scene and transported the officer to the hospital. His ankle was broken in three places and he had to have surgery to repair it. He has pins and screws in his ankle and is still hobbling around on crutches.

The State rested and the judge reset the hearing to be concluded on Wednesday.

Meredith’s parents were in court for the entire hearing. I sat with them. Despite Meredith’s compelling story, and the presence of a local news team in court, no one seemed interested in this tragic story. Think about that for a second. Have we become so desensitized to DUI homicides that it is no longer newsworthy when one drunk driver puts a young mother in the prime of her life in a wheelchair and another alleged DUI driver kills her? Media outlets were more concerned with covering Etoe Da Shooter, who was set the same day for a bond hearing.

And so Meredith’s parents and daughter shuffled out of the courtroom after the hearing. I couldn’t help but notice that her parents had a look of angst like they had traveled this road before. And I think to what Meredith would have thought that day too. Not Again…

UPDATE

The following week, the judge revoked Mr. Martin’s bond. Martin is currently incarcerated in Mobile Metro Jail awaiting a return of an indictment by a Mobile County grand jury. To his credit, Prescott Stokes of AL.COM covered the revocation. Bond revoked for murder suspect after allegedly assaulting a Mobile Cop

Meredith’s Passion

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Meredith’s facebook page is a haunting reminder to us all . If you take a look at her Facebook page you see that she felt passionate drunk driving. The posts are both  prescient and heart breaking at the same time.

THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK

 

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THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK

How Can You Help?

A Wells Fargo account has been established under Meredith Baxley Memorial Fund Acct number 7393437764 . Please consider donating. I did.

 

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Meredith Michele Baxley died when she was hit by an intoxicated driver on February 3,2017 in Mobile, AL at the age of 37.

Meredith is survived by her daughters, Morgan Baxley age 18 of Mobile and Melody Tuohy age 13 of Mobile, her mother and stepfather, Christine and Jeffrey Frohock Sr of Mobile, AL , her maternal grandmother, Lorraine Webster of Avon Park, FL, her paternal grandmother Ginny Baxley of Vadalia, Ga, her uncle Michael Webster of Avon Park, Fl, her aunt and uncle Dr & Mrs Jeffrey Frohock Jr of Charleston, SC, half-brother Brandon Baxley of Vadalia, Ga 

She is preceded in death by her father  William Baxley and her grandfather Winfield Webster

Meredith was born on May 18,1979 in Ft Lauderdale, Fl She graduated from McGill-Toolen in 1997 and attended South Ala for a short time. 

The family is maintaining a private memorial. 

In lieu of flowers the family is asking that any gestures be made in the form of donation set up for her daughters’education. Her two girls were her most prized possessions and always foremost in her thoughts

Nothing would honor her more than ensuring that they are cared for in her absence.  

A Wells Fargo account has been established under Meredith Baxley Memorial Fund Acct number 7393437764 or donations can be made to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) in her name.

Condolences may be sent to 13475 Laco Cooper Rd Wilmer, AL 36587

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of DUI accidents. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at mattgreenlaw@comcast.net

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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Mobile Woman Accused of Manslaughtering Own Brother involved in Two Prior High Speed Police Chases

We learned this week that a young woman killed her own brother here in Mobile County, Alabama.She has been charged with manslaughter. According to police and press accounts, 27 year old  Jamie McDole committed a theft at a Family Dollar in Irvington. Mobile County Sheriff deputies happened to be across the street at the time. They attempted to initiate a traffic stop when McDole sped off.

“When the officer hit the blue lights, they hit the gas pedal and they was Gone”

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Witness Carla Herrera (Photo from WPMI)

WPMI reporter Christian Jennings interviewed  witness Carla Herrera who told her “whoever was driving eased out of the parking lot at first and whenever the officer turned his blue lights on, they hit the gas pedal and they were gone.” You can watch the interview here.

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Family Dollar where chase began (Photo from WPMI)

The driver was Jamie McDole. After fleeing the scene, she later crashed into a Dodge pickup truck at the intersection of Highway 90 and St. Elmo. The collision was so violent that it ripped McDole’s car in half. McDole’s boyfriend and her brother were in her car at the time.

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McDole’s vehicle ripped in half

According to press reports  and law enforcement, as her boyfriend was injured and her brother lay dying, McDole abandoned both to steal a truck at a nearby gas station. McDole later crashed this vehicle out into a tree on Jay Drive. An ambulance arrived on scene to treat her for her injuries. Meanwhile a short time later, her brother succumbed to his injuries.

Ms. McDole was later discharged from the hospital and booked into Mobile Metro Jail for manslaughter in her brother’s death, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries x 2, theft of property, 1st Degree, and eluding police.


Long History of Drug & Alcohol Abuse

A review of McDole’s criminal history evidences that of a person consumed by addiction. Her arrest history just in the City of Mobile Municipal Court  includes:

MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL, THEFT OF PROPERTY 3RD DEGREE, PUBLIC INTOXICATION, DISORDERLY CONDUCT, MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL, THEFT OF PROPERTY 3RD DEGREE, PUBLIC INTOXICATION, DISORDERLY CONDUCT,

Jacob McDonald
Killed in McDoles’s crash was her brother Jacob McDonald 

 

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF 2ND, UNAUTHORIZED USE OF VEHICLE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 3RD – ASSAULT, OPERATING A VEHICLE WITHOUT INSURANCE,  SEATBELT VIOLATION, IMPROPER TAG,  DUI LIQUOR​/​ DRUNK IN POSSESSION – 1ST OFFENSE, CANCELLED DRIVERS LICENSE, SPEEDING 72 MPH in a 55 MPH zone, NO DRIVERS LICENSE, FAILURE TO SHOW VEHICLE REGISTRATION


Her criminal history in state court includes:

DUI, ASSAULT, 2nd DEGREE, PUBLIC LEWDNESS,  THEFT OF PROPERTY, 3rd DEGREE, RECKLESS DRIVING, ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE POLICE, FILING FALSE REPORT TO POLICE REPORT, DRIVING WITHOUT INSURANCE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, 3rd DEGREE-HARASSMENT


McDole’s History of Eluding Police, High Speed Chases, & Leaving Scenes of Accidents

Jamie McDole
MCSO Narrative: She stated she had been smokin’ weed

McDole’s alleged conduct this past Wednesday was not her first time she has led police on high speed chases endangering the public. Mobile County Deputy Sheriff’s narrative relates the following harrowing high speed chase of McDole on March 22, 2008.

03-22-2008 at 00:35 hours

On above date at 0010 HRS I observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed west bound on Half Mile Road between Bellingrath Rd and Padgett Switch Rd with out [sic] lights on. As I was traveling East Bound on Same Road. I then turned my vehicle around on the vehicle (A Gold Ford Taurus) and followed it as it turned North onto Padgett Switch Rd. I then initiated my emergency lights to attempt to stop the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle increased speed and continued on turning west onto Highway 90, then North on Louis Tillman Rd to Boe Rd, Running all red lights and stop signs. The vehicle then crossed over March Rd continuing on Boe Rd to Gulf Blvd, then across Hwy 90 South on to Irvington BLB Highway and Ran the Red Light on Gibson Rd and continued to a dirt rd off Gibson where it came to a stop after striking a tree. The driver of the vehicle Ms. Jamie McDole (Suspect 1) jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the wooded area. I then pursued Suspect 1  on foot and apprehended her about 100 ft. from the vehicle. Suspect 1 was then placed into custody and charged with Reckless

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MCSO Incident/Offense Report & Narrative of McDole’s 2010 Marijuana Induced High Speed Chase, Crash, and Leaving Scene of Accident

Endangerment and DUI. Upon Inventory Search of the vehicle, a small Blount containing Marijuana was found on the Drivers [sic] seat. Suspect 1 stated (While in my back seat) that she had been smokin[sic] weed. Suspect 1 had a very slurred speech and her pupils were dilated was transported to Metro Jail and Mizells Towed the vehicle. Upon my arrival to Metro Jail they advised me that because Ms. McDoles [sic] unknown influence of drugs they could not book her until she was seen checked and released by a medical professional. Ms. McDole was then transported to USA Medical Center, upon completion of a medical evaluation. Ms. McDole was then transported to USA Medical Center, upon completion of a medical evaluation Ms. McDole was transported back to Metro Jail. Suspect 2  Amanda Hicks was not charged and was given a ride home by Res. Deputy Emmons.

 


SHOTS FIRED: McDole’s Oxycontin Induced 2010 Prichard  & Mobile Police Chase

In May of 2010, McDole was in a police chase, this time involving two jurisdictions. Police officers even fired on her after she attempted to run them over. According to an AL.COM report:

Jamie McDole

PRICHARD, Alabama — A man and a woman were arrested Thursday morning after leading Prichard Police on a chase that ended in west Mobile, according to a news release.

Driver Jamie McDole, age 22, of Irvington and passenger James Harris, age 49, possibly of Butler were observed by Prichard Police backing into an automobile at Dunlap and Telegraph roads and pursued after leaving the scene, police said. The pursuit continued from Interstate 165 to Interstate 65 before the suspects exited on Airport Boulevard.

The chase finally stopped in the Books-A-Million parking lot at Pinebrook Shopping Center near McGregor Avenue, where the Mobile Police Department was contacted for assistance.

There, the report states that McDole attempted to run over police officers, who fired at the vehicle to get it to stop. There were no injuries as a result, it said.

The subjects were transported back to the Prichard Police Department, where it was discovered McDole had taken a number of Oxycontin tablets. EMS was called and she was transported to USA Medical Center for evaluation.

After being released, she will be charged with a number of charges, including possession of marijuana, attempting to elude police, resisting arrest and reckless endangerment. The other subject, Harris, was charged with 1st degree possession of marijuana and transported to Mobile County Metro Jail.

At the time of this incident, Ms. McDole was out on bond for Theft of Property 1st Degree and Filing a False Police Report (according to the complaint, she falsely reported to police that she had been raped) She later pled to a misdemeanor theft and the false report was nolle prossed.

McDole Leaves Drug Treatment

Perhaps drug treatment may be the answer for McDole one may think?  In 2015, McDole was arrested for assaulting  a police officer and public lewdness. The officer responded to  Carol Plantation Road to find McDole topless in the street.
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McDole’s Public Lewdness Complaint
After taking McDole into custody for her public lewdness, the officer alleged she then assaulted him.
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While in jail, she requested drug treatment and was granted it. She was transported from Metro Jail  to the Haven of Hope for Women. The court file notes that she later left rehab.
LEFT REAHB CROP

2015 PROTECTION FROM ABUSE PETITION

In 2015, the father of McDole’s then two year old child filed a protection from abuse petition against McDole. In his petition he alleged that she claimed to be pregnant and sent for him. He wrote that McDole claimed illness upon his arrival and was abusive to him. The man she was with then hit him in the head with a beer bottle putting him in the ICU. The father alleged that McDole was mentally ill, abusive to herself and others in the past and get this—has run over him with her automobile and bitten him. On February 17, 2016 the judge dismissed the complaint after the father failed to appear in court.
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2015 PFA filed against McDole that was later dismissed after the Plaintiff failed to appear

WEDNESDAY’S CRASH

This all brings us back to last Wednesday and how we got there. I wonder as to the conversation between McDole and her boyfriend and her brother in the moments before she crashed her vehicle ripping it apart. Did she know her brother lay dying nearby? Did she know her boyfriend too was harmed? What prompted Jamie McDole to flee that day? Was it the outstanding warrants? Was it her fear of prison? Was she under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Whatever the motivation, she needlessly endangered countless other motorists in addition to the occupants of her vehicle. It appears this conduct that resulted in the death of her brother was in keeping with a long line of prior similar conduct. I would like to say this was a freak accident by an isolated reckless driver, but unfortunately our roads, streets, highways and interstates are filled with these drivers every day. Two days later on Friday WPMI reported  another innocent motorist injured by a violent crash and motorist who fled the scene of the accident. As a former municipal court judge, I saw this far too often. As an attorney who now represents accident victims, I see it routinely.

 

McDole is set for a preliminary hearing before Judge Jill Phillips on June 28, 2017 on her current charges.

Related Reading: Woman charged with manslaughter in brother’s death

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at mattgreenlaw@comcast.net

police academy lecture

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

 

 

Bon Secour DUI Salt Life Suspect’s Salty History

More reported DUI madness this past week in the area. Debbie Williams with WKRG reported that a suspected DUI driver crashed into The Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar on Thursday night.TIN TOPP

Alabama State Troopers responded to the scene and discovered what they believed to be heroin in the vehicle. As reported by Williams, the crash could have been much worse considering the driver crashed into a table where just moments before a family of four with a baby was seated. However, at least one person was injured according to the WKRG report.

As is so often the case with DUI cases like this , the defendant, 50-year old David Emmons,  has a lengthy criminal history . So it is not a shock to learn that on May 22, 2017 Emmons was granted a pretrial diversion and allowed to enter the Butler County Alabama Drug Court on charges related to his arrest in 2015 for trafficking in—you got it,  heroin.

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On May 22, 2017, it  looks like the heroin trafficking charge was dismissed in lieu of a plea to possession of a controlled substance.

UPCS- PTRE TRIAL DIVERSION CROP

It appears Emmons made it a whole ten (10) days before violating  the terms and conditions of his pretrial diversion.  He is set for drug court docket/hearing on June 16, 2017 in Butler County. It appears he had sage legal counsel considering Emmons had been granted pretrial diversion in a prior felony drug case stemming from a 2006 arrest in Lauderdale County.

Syringes & Heroin Found in vehicle

Authorities say that they found syringes and heroin in Emmons vehicle. The manager of the restaurant, Brittney Briand, snapped this photograph of the interior of the defendant’s vehicle after the crash.

heroin syringe
Photograph from Restaurant Manager Brittney Briand

“THE ENTIRE RESTAURANT JUST STOOD UP”

According to Briand, the crash shook the restaurant. “It was clear there was something amiss. There was a loud commotion and the entire restaurant just stood up.” And even

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Photograph from Restaurant Manager Brittney Briand

then the defendant kept going according to Briand:  “The car did not stop that first time, it kept going, ended up smashing that table up against the wall.”

 

It sounds like as bad as it was, it could have been much worse., although one person was injured. According to witnesses, Emmons passed out behind the wheel across the street at a  stop sign at a 4 way stop on County Road 49. Motorists behind him laid on their horns causing him to speed through the intersection and crash in to the restaurant.

Emmons, like all accused of criminal conduct, is presumed innocent of his charges. He is currently in the Baldwin County Jail.

I am sure his counsel will ask for another shot at drug treatment. Do you think he deserves it? If guilty, perhaps it may be time to consider alternative sentencing options.

Hopefully he has automobile insurance to cover any bodily injury he caused and coverage to repay the The Tin Top  in Bon Secour for the damage he caused.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Green is a solo practitioner who represents personal injury and victims of criminal wrongdoing. He served as a municipal court traffic court judge in the City of Mobile and the City of Saraland for nearly a decade.Matt Green Before that Matt prosecuted major felonies, traffic homicides, and violent crimes in the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office. He teaches trial advocacy to Mobile Police Cadets and speaks to the Mobile County Court Referral Victim Impact Panel.  Matt also defends the constitutional rights of his clients. He may be reached at 251.434.8500 or by e-mail at mattgreenlaw@comcast.net

The Alabama State Bar, Rules of Professional conduct, Rule 7.2 (e), requires the following language in all attorney communications: No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.