ATHENS — Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series of stories about notable criminal court cases cleared or dismissed in 2013 and those coming up in 2014 or beyond. Parts two and three will run Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Limestone County District Attorney¹s Office cleared several major criminal cases this past year. The list includes two murders, an overturned murder case, a rape, two fatal traffic accidents and a terrorist threat made by a man who brought a loaded shotgun to school.
Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones said he inherited 10 major cases when he took office in January 2011. Five of those he could not bring to trial. Three of the accused had fled the country and have never been found. One remains in a mental facility, incompetent to stand trial and another will have to be tried by the Alabama Attorney General's Office because Jones, as a defense attorney, had once filed a document on her behalf.
Here is synopsis of the Limestone cases cleared in 2013:
Smoak - terrorist threat conviction
In March, the District Attorney's Office proved its case against Thomas Smoak, 54, of Athens.
Smoak was accused of making a terrorist threat and bringing a loaded shotgun to Athens High School in May 25, 2010, after Principal Chris Bolen suspended Smoak's son for five days for allegedly uttering a racial slur. He was sentenced to 10 years for making a terrorist threat and 10 years for bringing a deadly weapon onto school property.
He was allowed to serve the sentences concurrently.
Anderson - murder plea
In July, Lamar Anderson, 48, of Athens, accepted the D.A.'s offer to downgrade his charge from capital murder-burglary to murder in exchange for a life sentence rather than face the death penalty.
Anderson pleaded guilty to the March 13, 2011 beating and stabbing death of his estranged girlfriend, Wendy Defoe, 26, of Athens, at the abandoned Trinity School. The victim was seeking assistance at a domestic violence shelter at the time of the murder and had previously obtained a protection order to keep Anderson away.
Anderson will be eligible for parole in a decade or so.