The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 31, 2013

Shooting, 3 reckless murders to be tried in 2014 in Limestone

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— Remember the angry young man accused of shooting a random motorcyclist on U.S. 72 in Athens in 2012?

Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones said this week the confessed shooter not only shot the cyclist on Sept. 10, but when the first round left the cyclist still standing, the shooter stopped his van, backed up and shot the cyclist again. This is just one of several major cases still pending for trial in Limestone County in 2014. Here is a synopsis:

Noah McGlawn — attempted murder

Noah Andrew McGlawn will be tried as an adult for the 2012 attempted murder of an Athens man.

McGlawn, 21, of Whiteville, Tenn., told authorities he shot Brandon Matlock, 24, as Matlock rode his motorcycle along 72 on Sept. 10.

McGlawn told investigators he was angry with his father because he wanted him to go to trade school, so he drove around and randomly fired at Matlock because he “just felt like shooting someone.”

Matlock suffered wounds to the right shoulder and the lower right back but recovered.

Jones said at McGlawn’s youthful offender hearing, “He had a loaded weapon and drove all over Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama for six hours looking to kill someone, and when he got off the exit there was something about the cyclist that drew his attention and he shot him, not once but twice.”

McGlawn was denied bail because he told court officials if he were freed he would do it again.

Jessica Gatewood – reckless murder

Jessica Jean Gatewood, 50, of Huntsville, is charged with reckless murder, driving under the influence, two counts of third-degree assault and driving while revoked in connection with a fatal 2013 wreck on Interstate 565 in Limestone County.

She remains in the Limestone County Jail, with bail set at $33,500.

State troopers believe Gatewood, also known as Jessica Lewter, was driving under the influence when she rear-ended a Range Rover driven by Terrell Kent Hollingsworth, 45, of Decatur, near Mooresville. When the accident occurred, Hollingsworth and his passenger were waiting in a line of slow-moving traffic backed up on I-565 due to another wreck that killed an Athens woman, Marissa Baugher and her unborn son, Micah, as well as Fredrick Bender, 66, of Vestavia.

When the second wreck occurred about 7 p.m., Gatewood was driving about 70 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone but in traffic that had stalled from the previous 4 p.m. wreck, according to troopers and Huntsville Police.

She had three previous convictions for DUI, one involving a wreck, records show.

Patrick Turlington — reckless murder

Patrick Alan Turlington, 23, of Decatur, will stand trial on three counts of reckless murder and one count of first-degree assault in connection with a June 1, 2011, fatal wreck in Limestone County. Turlington was westbound on Alabama 20 heading into Decatur, when his red Chevrolet Cavalier crossed the grass median and struck the driver’s-side mirror of an eastbound GMC truck driven by Christopher Scott King of Hazel Green. King was able to swerve and avoid injury.  However, Turlington’s car then struck an eastbound 2001 Chevrolet driven by Michelle Colley, 48, of 21385 Alabama 20 in Tanner. Colley and her 22-year-old daughter, Mary Jane Mills, who lived with her mother, were declared dead at the scene. Another passenger in her vehicle, Shyanne Michelle Elder, 4, of Tanner, died later at Huntsville Hospital. A third passenger, Kendal Jay Mills, 2, also of Tanner, was airlifted along with Elder to Huntsville Hospital. 

Turlington was treated at Decatur General Hospital and released.  His $85,000 bail later was revoked. 

James Wells — reckless murder

James Marvin Wells, 46, of Athens, is charged with reckless murder, first-degree assault, driving under the influence and driving on the wrong side of the road in connection with a July 2, 2011, wreck that killed one man and injured another on U.S. 72 near the Clements community.

The wreck, which occurred around 2:13 a.m., killed Salah Mohsen Qofaan, 29, and injured Anthony Merwin Draper, 60, a passenger in Wells’ vehicle.

Wells was driving a 1998 Chevrolet Silverado on the wrong side of 72 when he collided head-on with Qofaan’s 2004 Toyota Matrix.

Freed, pending, sick, missing

Some other cases in 2013 included a plea agreement that freed a man serving a sentence for murder, an old case that will have to be tried by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, and other old cases that might never be resolved.

Anthony Dugger

An Athens man once sentenced to 23 years in prison for his part in a 2002 murder-for-hire was freed after serving only half that time in prison.

Under a plea agreement reached in April by Jones and Athens defense attorney Harlan Mitchell, Anthony “Andy” Houston Dugger, 39, was released after serving only 11 years in prison, according to Jones and jail records. He will remain on supervised probation for three more years.

Dugger admitted conspiring with Melissa Jarrett of Athens and Chad Reece of Elkmont in the November 2002 murder of Melissa’s husband, Shane Jarrett.

Jones and Mitchell reached the agreement because of a due-process claim by the defense and because of the wishes of the victim’s father.

“After considering the wishes of the victim’s father, a plea agreement was entered wherein Dugger withdrew his plea of mental disease or defect and pled guilty to murder,” Jones said. Dugger received a 20-year sentence and was given credit for the 11 years he has been incarcerated. The sentence was split with the balance suspended and the remaining time to be served on supervised probation. 

In 2007, he had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of murder and was facing a sentence of 20 years to life. Under a plea agreement between Dugger’s former attorney, Dan Totten, and then-District Attorney Kristi Valls, Dugger was sentenced to serve 23 years in prison because of his willingness to testify against his co-conspirators.

Dora Ramirez

No date has been set for Dora Alicia Ramirez, 27, of Decatur, who is accused of murder in the December 2005 execution-style shooting of her lover, Andres Flores Galicia, 31, of Decatur. She allegedly lured Galicia to rural Limestone County so her husband, Ulises Arturo Reyes Mercado could kill him. Ramirez pretended she had car trouble and when her lover— who went by the name “Flores” — arrived on Mooresville Road, Mercado allegedly shot him in the face and the back of the head. Mercado, who is also wanted for murder, fled to Mexico before he could be arrested. Ramirez’s case remains pending, possibly until Mercado is tried for murder. She remains free on bail. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office will try the case because Jones, while working as a defense attorney, once filed a document on Ramirez’ behalf.  Her attorney is attempting to have the case dismissed, claiming she has been denied her Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. The state A.G.’s office is contesting.

Domingo Ortiz-Velasquez

No court date has been set for Domingo Ortiz-Velasquez, 34, of Athens, in the September 2006 stabbing of Santos Pablo Lares. Velasquez told investigators he stabbed Pablo Lares of Athens after he and some other men attacked him in front of his mobile home at 1001 Frazier St. He was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to the Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility in Tuscaloosa, where he remains. Jones said he doubts he will ever be well enough for release.

Marcelino Ortiz-Valazquez

No court date has been set for Marcelino Ortiz-Valazquez, 33, who fled the scene of a 2005 wreck that killed his passengers — Martin Ramos and Marcos Lopez. He was never found for questioning.

Jose Guadalupe Ibarra-Morante

No court date has been set for Jose Guadalupe Ibarra-Morante, 47, of Toney, on a charge of reckless murder in connection with a Dec. 12, 2009, wreck on Old Railroad Bed Road that killed Richard and Doris Doty. Ibarra-Morante, whom officials say was driving under the influence of alcohol, was arrested on two counts of reckless murder and was initially denied bail because he was considered a flight risk even though he is a legal citizen. Later, bail was set through a bail bonding company, Ibarra-Morante was released, he fled and has never been found.