The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 1, 2013

BREAKING: DA will not seek death penalty in Moyers case


jean@athensnews-courier.com

ATHENS — The Limestone County District Attorney's Office will not seek the death penalty in the case against a Cullman man accused of fatally shooting an Athens man with an AK-47 because he thought he seemed suspicious.

District Attorney Brian Jones told The News Courier today he filed a motion about 4 p.m. Thursday in Circuit Court stating his decision to seek life in prison but not the death penalty in the case against Joel Patrick Moyers.

Moyers, 52, is charged with capital murder, murder extreme indifference, and two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle in connection with the Sept. 29 shooting of 26-year-old Brandon Hydrick.

Jones said the statue relating to seeking the death penalty requires a standard of murder that is "heinous, atrocious and cruel"

"Every murder is brutal," he said. "Every murder is a terrible act. But, when you compare them, some rise to the legal standard and some do not," he said.

Jones said he met with the Hydrick family before making the decision and they were "okay with it."

If Moyers is convicted of capital murder — which is murder committed in the commission of another felony — he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The shooting

Brandon and his younger brother, Ryan, had been at a bonfire and marshmallow roast in the area with friends the morning of the shooting. While returning home, the brothers became lost and stopped on Fennell Lane. Moyers, who was living on Fennel Road in a mobile home owned by his mother at the time and believed the brothers were would-be criminals, walked to the area with his AK-47 and a flashlight. When Ryan drove past Moyers on Fennel Road and would not stop, Moyers fired what he called "a warning shot,"  which struck the tailgate and pierced the cab, killing Brandon.