By Adam Smith
A Limestone County grand jury handed down a capital murder indictment Friday against Joel Moyers, a man accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Brandon Hydrick in September.
The four-count indictment also charges the 52-year-old Moyers with reckless murder, recklessly shooting into an occupied vehicle and intentionally shooting into an occupied vehicle.
Following the grand jury indictment, District Attorney Brian Jones swore out a warrant for Moyers, who has been living at his mother’s house on Smith Lake.
Moyers, however, is in Cullman Regional Medical Center where he was admitted Friday evening. A hospital representative said Moyers is in a “critical care unit,” and Jones — who would not comment on what led to Moyers’ hospitalization — verified he is on a ventilator.
Upon Moyers’ release from the hospital, he will be transported to the Limestone County Jail where he will be held without bond until his murder trial begins.
Jones said charging Moyers with capital murder had been a possibility since the shooting because he fired into an occupied vehicle. However, Jones wanted to wait until he received more substantial proof in the form of a ballistics report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.
“We had some questions that we wanted to answer regarding the weapon,” he said.
Moyers told officers on the night of the shooting in the Belle Mina community that he had fired a warning shot into the air after encountering the pickup truck driven by Ryan Hydrick. Brandon Hydrick was the passenger in the truck.
The brothers had left a party and were driving around when they became lost. They were briefly parked on Fennel Lane when Moyers — who was staying in a trailer on Fennel Road — spotted the truck and approached with a flashlight and assault rifle. He told deputies he thought the Hydricks were would-be thieves.
Ryan Hydrick drove past Moyers, and it was at that point that Moyers fired a shot. The bullet entered the tailgate of the truck and struck Brandon Hydrick in the back, killing him. Moyers then got into his vehicle and briefly pursued the Hydricks’ truck, which crashed into a wooded area.
Moyers returned to his trailer, waited for authorities to arrive and surrendered without incident.
“We had to show he intended (to fire into the truck),” Jones said. “This is a 50-year-old surplus Chinese weapon, and we wanted to make sure it was operational and that (the fatal shot) wasn’t a misfire. When the (forensic) report came back, that closed any gaps we had.”
Sheriff Mike Blakely said deputies have been at the hospital in Cullman waiting on Moyers’ release, and Jones said he receives regular updates on Moyers’ condition.
Attempts to reach Moyers’ attorney Dan C. Totten were unsuccessful Saturday. Brandon Hydrick’s girlfriend Bronwen Murray, who has been passionate about Moyers being charged with capital murder, is in Europe and was also unavailable for comment prior to deadline.
Jones wanted to thank the Department of Forensic Sciences and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office for their work on the case.
“With all the cutbacks and staff issues at DFS, the turnaround time (on the report) would normally be about a year,” he said. “They really did me a solid on this.”