The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 28, 2012

Cowan sentenced to 75 years for beating Haneys

From staff reports

A man convicted in the home invasion and robbery of Tanner couple Shirley and Charlotte Haney was sentenced Tuesday to 75 years in prison.

Joshua Ray Cowan, 27, of Elkmont received 25 years for first-degree burglary, 25 years for first-degree robbery and 25 years each for two counts of first-degree robbery, all of which are to be served consecutively. He also received 10 years for third-degree burglary and 40 years for two counts of second-degree kidnapping, which will be served concurrently.

Circuit Court Judge James Woodroof sentenced him after hearing testimony from the victims and arguments from District Attorney Brian C.T. Jones and defense attorney R. Garry Clem.

Jones said Cowan represents what people are afraid of at night and why they buy guns and security systems to protect themselves. He said Cowan stole more than money from the Haneys, namely their peace of mind and dignity.

“ … He injected fear into what should be the golden years of their lives,” Jones said. “This sentence will stand as a reminder for many years to come that we will not tolerate this behavior in our community. Each and every citizen in Limestone County can sleep a little bit better tonight knowing that Joshua Cowan will not be out of prison for many years.”

The remaining two co-defendants — Damien Lamar Mitchell and Mario Lamar Taylor, both 20 and from Athens — will face trial on April 30.

The Haneys told investigators they were sleeping when two men wearing Halloween masks awakened them about 1 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2010. The men pulled the Haneys, both 71, out of their bed, beat them on their heads and faces and forced them into a farm office in the back yard. One of the men held a knife to Charlotte’s throat and threatened to kill the couple unless she opened the safe, investigators said.

Charlotte told the men she could not recall the combination, and was struck in the back of the head with a hard object each time she tried to speak, investigators said. Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said at the time of the suspects’ arrests the couple was pistol-whipped. After shoving the couple into a bathroom and blocking the door with a desk, the suspects fled with at least $1,000 in cash and two handguns, authorities said.

Within 24 hours of the attack, Limestone County officers had arrested Taylor during a traffic stop, Mitchell at home and Cowan while he walked behind Bethlehem Church off Nuclear Plant Road. Investigators recovered two handguns and a shotgun, which had been hidden in the Clements community.

Sheriff’s Lt. Brad Curnutt said at the time of the arrests investigators believed Taylor drove the getaway car and dropped Cowan and Mitchell at Jones Cross Roads, where he later picked them up.

Limestone County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Randy King said at the time of the arrests, Cowan had once done repairs at the Haney home.


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