Southern Alabama
Victims of the State

14 Cases

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County:   Choctaw   Coffee   Coosa   Escambia

Geneva   Lowndes   Mobile   Monroe   Montgomery

Choctaw County, AL
Choctaw Three

In Feb. 1999, Victoria Bell Banks was in the county jail and pretended to be pregnant as a ploy to get released.  She had two doctors check on her, the second of which claimed to have heard a fetal heartbeat.  Victoria was released on bond in May 1999, after she threatened to sue the jail for failing to provide prenatal care.  In August, the sheriff, Donald Lolly, stopped Victoria and questioned her about the baby that was due in June.  After Victoria told him she miscarried, the sheriff took her to the second doctor who examined her before, and he could find no evidence she had ever been pregnant.  The sheriff then had officials with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation question her to find out where was the missing baby.  Victoria could not have been pregnant because she had had her tubes tied in 1995.

After being questioned for extended periods of time, Victoria, her husband Medell Banks Jr., and her sister, Dianne Bell Tucker all reportedly confessed to participating in the killing of the non-existent child.  They were charged with capital murder in Sept. 1999.  Rather than face the electric chair, Victoria pleaded guilty to manslaughter after her trial had begun in Nov 2000, and the other two did likewise six months later as their trial dates approached.  All were sentenced to 15 years in prison.  A nationally known fertility doctor examined Victoria and concluded she was sterile.  The prosecutor filed perjury charges against Victoria for telling a judge she had not been pregnant.  The charges were dismissed in Jan. 2003 when Victoria signed a statement that said, “I, Victoria Banks, hereby state that I lied when I said I didn't have a baby.  I am sorry.”  Medell Banks faced retrial on capital murder charges in Jan 2003, but all charges were dropped after pretrial hearings established that Medell never admitted to killing a baby.  (Justice: Denied) (ForeJustice) (IDE) (Small Town Justice) (P2) (P3)  [11/05]

Coffee County, AL
George White
Feb 27, 1985 (Enterprise)

Both George W. White and his wife Charlene were shot multiple times by a masked gunman.  George survived but Charlene died.  Sixteen months later George was charged with the murder of his wife.  Following a trial that was later characterized as a mockery and a sham, George was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.  In 1989, the conviction was overturned after George spent over 27 months in prison.  In 1992, the charge was dismissed after proof of George's innocence surfaced.  George is a co-founder of Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and served on the board of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation from 1994 to 1998.  (Journey of Hope) (Justice: Denied)  [6/05]

Coosa County, AL
Tim Davis
July 20, 1978

Timothy Charles Davis came across the murdered body of Avis F. Alford in 1978.  When he checked to see if victim was alive, he splashed blood on the legs of his jeans which resulted in his conviction for murder.  Davis was sentenced to death as a juvenile, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles.  A book about Davis and his case entitled A Forgotten Man is (as of Feb. 2011) expected to be published soon.  (TCD) (Davis v. State)  [3/05]

Escambia County, AL
Dewayne Cunningham
Aug 20, 1995 (Flomaton)

Dewayne Scott Cunningham was convicted of rape after the victim identified him while he was handcuffed in the back of a police car.  Such a “show-up” identification is considered less reliable than lineup or photo lineup identifications.  The victim gave a written statement that her assailant as “not tall,” only a couple of inches taller than her own 5'4" frame.  Cunningham is 6' tall.  The victim also estimated his age at between 30 and 40 years old; Cunningham was 26 at the time.  There is also a question of motive.  The victim was female, but Cunningham is an apparent homosexual.  He worked as a male prostitute and reports that he has a “husband” in prison.  Alabama does not allow for post-conviction DNA tests of crime evidence, and as of 2006, Cunningham has filed a federal lawsuit in Mobile to gain access to the evidence for such tests.
(Press-Register)  [3/07]

Geneva County, AL
William Jordan
Convicted 1934

William Jordan was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment.  He ran over a person he knew in his car at night.  There had been a fire in the woods nearby and Jordan said he could not see well enough to tell whether a person’s body was lying in the road.  He spent the night at the deceased's home apparently unaware of his death.  When Jordan found out the next day about the death of the deceased, he telephoned the deceased's employer and went with him to the scene.  He was wholly cooperative with the sheriff and told him about running over what he thought was a pole or chunk in the road.

Jordan's relations with the deceased were friendly and intimate. There was no motive given for any hostile act towards the deceased.  There was no evidence of strong drink affecting any of the participants in that night’s occurrence.  The deceased had left footprints in the burned woods and no other footprints were found.  He had been shot and it could not be determined whether he was dead before or after Jordan ran over his body.  After Jordan's conviction another person confessed to the crime.  The state supreme court vacated Jordan's conviction for insufficient evidence; charges against him were subsequently dropped.  (Jordan v. State) (MOJ)  [12/10]

Lowndes County, AL
Butler & Yelder
Apr 1928

Louise Butler and her paramour, George Yelder, were convicted of murdering Louise's 14-year-old niece, Topsy Warren.  Topsy's sister and two of her cousins testified that Louise struck Topsy with an ax, with which George dismembered the corpse.  The remains allegedly were put into a sack and then thrown into the Alabama River.  Louise had confessed to the murder initially, but the confession was suppressed at trial.  Both defendants were sentenced to life in prison.

Less than a week after sentencing, Topsy was discovered alive and well, and residing less than twenty miles away.  In June 1928, George and Louise were formally exonerated and released.  The children then admitted that they had fabricated the story at the behest of a man who had a grievance against George.  It was never explained why they also had implicated Louise, or why she had confessed.  (CWC) (CTI)  [7/05]

Mobile County, AL
Michael Pardue
May 22, 1973

After days of police interrogation at the Saraland Police Department, Michael Pardue, 17, confessed to brutally murdering Ronald Rider, 20, and Harvey Hodges, 68, attendants at two gas stations 16 miles apart in Mobile and Baldwin counties.  He also confessed to the murder of a skeleton, which happened to be found in a Mobile County ditch during the interrogation.  The skeleton was later identified as Theodore White, 43, and his cause of death is officially listed as unknown.  Using similar tactics the police coerced Pardue's associates John Brown, 21, and Theresa Lanier, 15, to sign confessions, although Brown could not read and the three confessions contradicted each other as well as the forensic and physical facts of the cases.
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Mobile County, AL
Freddie Lee Wright
Dec 1, 1977 (Mount Vernon)

On Dec 1, 1977, Warren and Lois Green were murdered during a robbery of the Western Auto store that they owned and operated in Mount Vernon.  Shortly before the murders, a customer, Mary Johnson, noticed a man entering the store as she was leaving.  After she heard about the murders, she identified Theodore Otis Roberts from a police photo spread as the man she saw entering along with his blue car that she saw parked outside.
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Mobile County, AL
Donnie Mays
Apr 12, 2001 (Mobile)

Donnie Mays was convicted of the murder of his wife Kaye.  On the day of Kaye's death, Donnie, who worked for American General Auto Finance, received a phone call from corporate headquarters telling him that someone had forged his signature on expense reports.  Kaye subsequently admitted she had forged Donnie's signature.  Not knowing the severity of the wrongdoing or that Kaye had actually stolen money from his employer, Donnie suggested they call his boss, Jim Martin, whom both Donnie and Kaye were close to.  However, Kaye decided it would be best to wait until the following morning.
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Monroe County, AL
Brian Baldwin
Mar 14, 1977

Brian Keith Baldwin, a black male, was executed for the torture and murder of 16-year-old Naomi Rolon, a white female.  On Mar 12, 1977, Baldwin, 18, and Edward Dean Horsley, 19, escaped from a youth detention center in North Carolina.  Within hours of their escape, the two hitched a ride with Rolon in Hudson, NC, and drove to Alabama.  Presumably Rolon went to Alabama involuntarily as her original plan was just to drive across town.  Baldwin got out in Alabama and stole an El Camino pickup truck, while Horsley drove off with Rolon.  The two males may have planned to release Rolon and drive away in a car Rolon could not identify.  Rolon was subsequently found murdered, and a day afterwards, Horsley and Baldwin were captured by police.
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Monroe County, AL
Walter McMillian
Nov 1, 1986

Walter McMillian, a black man, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Ronda Morrison, a white clerk at a dry cleaners store.  The crime happened in Monroeville, which, renamed as Maycomb, was the setting for Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird, a story about a falsely accused black man.  The three witnesses who had testified against McMillian admitted that they had lied.  In addition, it became clear that the prosecution had hidden exculpatory evidence, including the existence of a witness who had seen the victim alive after the time at which the prosecution contended her murder had occurred.  The case was profiled on 60 Minutes on Nov. 22, 1992.  Afterwards the State agreed to investigate its earlier handling of the case and then admitted that a grave mistake had been made.  McMillian was freed on Mar. 3, 1993.  A book was written about the case entitled Circumstantial Evidence by Pete Earley (1995).  (CWC)  [5/05]

Montgomery County, AL
Clarence Womack
Feb 2, 1981

Clarence Womack was convicted of murdering Arthur D. Bullock, the proprietor of the City Curb Market in Montgomery.  Bullock was shot with a pistol during a robbery of his store.  Womack was sentenced to death.  The conviction was based on perjured testimony, the withholding of exculpatory evidence, and ineffective assistance of counsel.  Womack was cleared in 1988.  [7/05]

Montgomery County, AL
Melvin Beamon

After 17 hours of interrogation, during which Montgomery police beat and threatened to shoot him, Melvin Todd Beamon confessed to murder.  At trial they gave false testimony against Beamon, as did other witnesses they had threatened.  Beamon was convicted, but six weeks later an eyewitness to the crime came forward and exonerated him.  (ISI)  [3/06]

Montgomery County, AL
Robert Doyle

Robert Doyle was convicted of the sexual abuse of his two young daughters.  His conviction was later vacated due to the withholding of exculpatory evidence.  (FJDB) (JD Blog)  [12/09]