The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 19, 2013

Error in fatal shooting case prompts attorney to seek bail for Moyers

By Jean Cole
jean@athensnews-courier.com

— A Limestone County judge has been asked to let accused murderer Joel Moyers post bail following an error by the district attorney’s office that prompted a judge to dismiss a capital murder charge.

Moyers is accused of firing his rifle into a pickup truck on Fennell Road on Sept. 29, 2012, and killing passenger Brandon Hydrick.

Moyers was charged with reckless murder immediately after the shooting, then formally charged Dec. 7, 2012, on a four-count indictment last year. Count one of that indictment alleged capital murder, while count two alleged reckless murder. (Jurors will have to either acquit Moyers or find him guilty of either capital murder or reckless murder, not both.)

Dismissed, recharged

Late Tuesday afternoon, Circuit Judge James Woodroof Jr. dismissed the capital murder charge against Moyers because the state, through District Attorney Brian Jones, failed to use the word “intentional” in the capital murder charge.

Woodroof wrote in his order: “The indictment changes the defendant with shooting into an occupied vehicle and killing the vehicle occupant. It is insufficient under the law to charge a capital offense by simply alleging reckless shooting into a motor vehicle and killing the occupant.”

Woodroof also set bail at $100,000 on count two of the indictment, reckless murder, meaning Moyers could now post bail and be released from the Limestone County Jail.

Though Moyers tried Tuesday, he never got out of jail. Defense attorneys Dan Totten and Lucas Beaty were back in court Wednesday morning asking the court to set bail for their client. When asked why Moyers could not get out of jail Tuesday night, Totten said the question was a good one for Sheriff Mike Blakely.

Blakely said the Sheriff’s Department received a faxed copy of Woodroof’s order dismissing count one and setting bond on count two.

“But, before a bail bondsman could get to the jail, the district attorney placed a temporary hold on Moyers, and had an investigator get a warrant down there (in order to recharge Moyers with capital murder using the right language),” Blakely said.

Bail

Woodroof had denied Totten’s first request to dismiss the capital murder because of the language. The same day, Jones filed an amended capital murder charge that used the word “intentional.” Totten asked Woodroof June 7 to reconsider his decision. Woodroof agreed to do so and ultimately dismissed the capital charge.

During Wednesday’s bail hearing, Beaty asked Woodroof to set bail on the capital murder charge at $50,000, citing several reasons.

Among them, Beaty said the Alabama Rules of Judicial Procedure allow judges to set bail ranging from $50,000 to no bail on a charge of capital murder.

Reversal

Although the district attorney had Moyers recharged again Tuesday with capital murder, Moyers has not yet been formally charged by a grand jury on the amended charge. The case will be presented again to a grand jury at a future date.

Woodroof said after Wednesday’s hearing he would consider the matter of bail and render his decision.

Jones said in a statement that nothing in the judge’s ruling affects the merits of the Moyers case.