source:Al.com — A 43-year-old rural postal carrier wanted in connection with the Tuesday evening shooting death of his estranged wife had been due in court Wednesday to answer charges that he violated her protection order, the woman’s attorney said.
Michael Kenneth Berry remained at large as of Wednesday, Mobile police said. He is wanted in connection with the shooting death of 36-year-old Wendy Stevens inside her sport utility vehicle.
Stevens’ attorney, Michael Murphy, said Stevens’ four children — three boys and a girl — saw their mother killed up close. They were sitting inside the Expedition with her.
The shooting took place about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday near an automated teller machine at the RBC Bank branch at 7849 Cottage Hill Road.
Mobile County Juvenile Court Judge Edmond Naman said a request for protection had been filed on Stevens’ behalf Jan. 11, and the temporary ruling remained in place while divorce proceedings were under way before Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Donald Banks.
In the Jan. 11 hearing, Naman said Stevens alleged that Berry choked her, punched her in the head, threatened to kill her and said he would take the children where she could not find them.
Murphy said the divorce had not been finalized. He said the couple had two sons, ages 3 and 9, and Stevens had a 12-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son from a previous marriage.
Murphy said a hearing was scheduled in Banks’ courtroom for Wednesday, in which Murphy sought to have Berry put in jail for what Murphy said were repeated violations of Naman’s protection order.
According to Murphy, Berry also had a no-contact order issued against him in Mobile Municipal Court.
Nonetheless, Murphy said, Berry repeatedly called Stevens on her cellular phone, and on April 9 tried to pull her out of a car at a west Mobile intersection, not far from where she was killed a month later.
Murphy said Stevens carried the protection order paperwork with her wherever she went.
Tim Lowery, a family friend speaking from Holland, Mich., said Stevens was self-employed and cleaned businesses and workplaces. He said she occasionally also worked as a waitress.
Tony Robinson, a United States postal inspector and Alabama spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said Berry is a rural route carrier who works out of the Theodore post office on U.S. 90.
Robinson said an inspector was sent to the post office in Theodore, both to be on the lookout for Berry and to serve as protection for Berry’s co-workers there.
Lowery said he last spoke to Stevens on Thursday and was told that her daughter was planning to perform in a dance recital this coming weekend. Lowery said he was en route back to Mobile from Holland, which is near Grand Rapids in Michigan’s western Lower Peninsula, about 1,100 miles from Mobile.
He said Stevens’ relatives were coming to Mobile from the Tampa, Fla., area, where Stevens was from originally.
Naman, Lowery and Murphy all expressed frustration that Stevens died despite going through every legal channel to protect herself.
“She had done everything she could,” Naman said.
“Here is a woman who did everything she was supposed to do, go to Penelope House, get the protection order, and she was even trying to get surveillance cameras put up at her house,” Murphy said. “And it wasn’t enough.”
Lowery echoed their feelings, saying, “This just didn’t have to happen.”
Police say it happened at the Quik Pick gas station on St. Stephens Road in Mobile. Ofc. Chris Levy of the Mobile Police Department says, the man got into a verbal altercation with the security guard and produced a knife and actually came at the security guard with that knife. So, police say the guard shot him in the hip.
Levy said that it’s rare a guard is forced to use a weapon against a potential criminal, because just being there deters crime. I say they are a tremendous help to the police department because having someone there, who looks official, and in uniform can be a excellent deterrent to crime. We do recommend having some sort of security guard 24 hours a day outside of a business.
Police also say the security guard who was working that night, didn’t do anything wrong and may have prevented a serious crime and will not face any charges.
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A Home Depot employee was arrested amid accusations that he stole more than $40,000 worth of merchandise from the store over the last year, Mobile police said.
Police arrested 51-year-old Paul Gwin of Semmes on Tuesday, after Home Depot loss prevention agents detained him, police spokesman Cpl. Charles Bagsby said
Investigators went to Gwin’s home in the 10300 block of Coleman Dairy Road and recovered building supplies, lawn mowers, insulation, tiles, drills, an air conditioner and more, Bagsby said.
Gwin worked at the Schillinger Road store as a delivery driver, Bagsby said, and investigators believe he loaded extra merchandise onto his trucks and brought those things to his house.
Bagsby said that Gwin did not appear to be selling the materials but using them for his home.
Gwin was charged with first-degree theft of property and was booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail. Records show that he was released on $7,500 bail.
The merchandise recovered at Gwin’s home was returned to Home Depot, Bagsby said.
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al.com Herman Thomas, while a Mobile County circuit judge, checked male inmates out of Metro Jail to exert control over them and force them into sexual activity, according to indictments released Friday.
About a year after stepping down from the bench, Thomas was arrested Friday outside the same jail on charges of kidnapping, sodomy, extortion, sex abuse and ethics violations.
The bow-tied lawyer known for his energetic support of community programs, his time as a University of South Alabama trustee and for presiding over legal cases since the 1990s found himself standing against a wall to have his jail mugshot taken.
A special grand jury met for three weeks this month and returned 57 felony charges against Thomas. The indictment lists nine alleged victims, each of them current or former inmates.
“These are very serious charges,” some carrying up to life in prison, said District Attorney John Tyson Jr. Thomas was taken into custody outside the jail as his attorney, Robert “Cowboy Bob” Clark, held an afternoon news conference amid reports of an impending arrest.
With a handful of other lawyers looking on in support — and Thomas remaining quiet and answering no questions — Clark suggested his client’s indictment was motivated by racism.
“This is racism at its very finest. We ought to be proud we elected those bastards,” said Clark in an apparent reference to Tyson and former Thomas colleagues on the bench.
As Clark was speaking, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office quietly walked up to Thomas, tapped him on the shoulder, whispered something to him and then accompanied Thomas — without placing him in handcuffs — to the jail 10 feet away.
There, Thomas was photographed and booked, with bail set at $287,500, according to the jail log. He was later released.
Each of Thomas’ alleged victims at one time faced charges in Mobile County Circuit Court, according to online court records. The allegations against them ranged from criminal mischief to murder. At least eight of the alleged victims appeared on Thomas’ docket, according to court records.
One of the inmates went before Thomas on multiple occasions over the years for several felony charges. He was eventually sent to prison for a short time, but Thomas ordered him released early.
Finally, he ended up sentenced in federal court and later released. He has since been accused of murder and attempted murder.
According to Friday’s grand jury allegations, Thomas “knowingly” subjected the young men “to sexual contact, by forcible compulsion.”
In one case, Thomas is accused of forcing an inmate to have oral sex with him. Also, Thomas used the inmate’s labor to benefit himself, according to the indictment.
The indictment repeatedly makes reference to Thomas “paddling and/or whipping” inmates.
When Thomas was a judge, he had a storage room furnished like an office just steps from his eighth-floor chamber at Mobile Government Plaza. It was there, several criminal defendants have alleged in affidavits and in court, that Thomas would ask to paddle their buttocks.
In most cases, the Press-Register does not publish the names of people who are alleged to be victims of sex crimes; the newspaper is not printing the names of the men identified in the indictment against Thomas.
After leaving the jail and with Thomas behind bars, Clark showed up at a Tyson news conference and began ranting again about the district attorney and his office.
Investigator Tony Goubil asked Clark to leave. Red-faced, Clark said that he was not going anywhere unless he was placed under arrest.
“OK, you are under arrest,” Goubil told him before leading him out.
A little later, a calmer Clark returned, saying Tyson had permitted him to stay as long as he kept quiet, and that he was not, after all, under arrest.
Tyson said Clark’s accusations that Thomas’ troubles stem from racism at Government Plaza are “absolute nonsense.”
Nicki Patterson, the chief assistant district attorney, later pointed out that all the alleged victims are black. Thomas is black.
Tyson said his office began investigating Thomas shortly after he resigned his office in October 2007. The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, the Mobile Police Department, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division assisted in the investigation, Tyson said.
Thomas’ resignation came in the face of a pending trial before Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary, where he was charged with dozens of ethical violations.
Tyson said his investigation is not over and that the special grand jury could be called back into session at any time.
He used the news conference to invite anyone to come forward if what happened to the alleged victims “happened to you. We would be very interested in hearing from you.”
Earlier Friday, all the judges on the circuit bench recused themselves from presiding over Thomas’ case.
Presiding Circuit Judge Charles Graddick said late Friday that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb had appointed retired Marengo County Circuit Judge Claude Neilson to handle Thomas’ proceedings.
“I am flabbergasted. The only thing I’ve known Herman Thomas to be guilty of is helping people,” said Willie Huntley Jr., a lawyer who knows Thomas professionally and through their work together with 100 Black Men of Mobile, a civic organization on which Thomas serves as secretary of the executive committee.
Criminal charges brought against former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas could result in the immediate suspension of his license to practice law, a state bar officials said Friday.
The Alabama State Bar does not comment on specific cases. But the Montgomery-based organization’s general counsel, Tony McLain, said the bar seeks the immediate suspension of lawyers facing criminal charges when authorities believe the defendants to be a threat to the public or their clients.
Typically, those cases involve allegations of theft from clients, McLain said.
When the bar seeks an immediate suspension, the accused attorney can request a hearing within seven days to contest it.
Short of an immediate suspension, McLain said, bar officials monitor criminal cases. If an attorney is convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, a bar committee decides on a punishment ranging from 45 days’ suspension to disbarment.
A disbarred attorney can apply for reinstatement after five years, McLain said.
The bar association also can discipline an attorney without a criminal conviction if bar panel determines his actions violated his oath as a lawyer.
Following leaving the bench in 2007, Thomas began working in the Mobile office of attorney James Brandyburg.
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Drug agents arrest owners of online pharmacy http://www.privateofficer.com
AL.com — Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents this morning arrested the owners of a local online pharmacy on charges that they filled hundreds of illegal prescriptions for anabolic steroids.
A. Samuel Kelley, Jason R. Kelley and Jodi C. Silvio, who own Applied Pharmacy Services, made an initial appearance in Mobile’s federal court this afternoon along with three pharmacists also indicted. Lawyers for the defendants said their clients will plead not guilty at an arraignment next week.
The men are among 12 people named in a 198-count federal indictment that also accuses the pharmacy owners of money laundering.
Former Mobile principal charged with stealing from school http://www.privateofficer.com
The former principal of Booker T. Washington Middle School has been indicted on a first-degree theft of property charge accusing him of stealing more than $68,000 from the school and funneling at least some of that money through a church he pastored, authorities said.
Bernard Johnson, 43, surrendered to police early Wednesday morning after being indicted in secret by the Mobile County grand jury on Friday.
He was released on a $7,500 bond.
Johnson’s alleged thefts were turned up by the Mobile County Public School System during a routine audit, said Nicki Patterson, chief assistant district attorney. The school system then notified District Attorney John Tyson Jr.’s office, which completed the investigation, Patterson said.
Asked for comment on his client’s charges, Johnson’s attorney, Arthur Madden, said, “In keeping with my standard practice, I have no comment.”
Johnson resigned as principal of the school in February after being put on administrative leave when the audit turned up “financial irregularities.”
At the time of that investigation, Johnson was still pastor of Stewart Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, a prominent congregation in north central Mobile.
A public records request made by the Press-Register after Johnson was placed on administrative leave from the principal position showed that, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11, 2007, Johnson signed five Washington Middle checks worth a total of $25,375 that were made out to Stewart Memorial C.M.E. Church. On Oct. 16 he repaid the full amount from his personal checking account, according to the records.
That inquiry by the Press-Register only partially pulled the curtain back on Johnson’s behind-the-scenes actions, Patterson said.
The District Attorney’s Office investigation found that Johnson stole more than $68,000 from the school, only part of which was funneled to his church, Patterson said.
Part of the money was put into his church,” Patterson said. “But we also allege that a good portion of the money just vanished into his own hands.”
And the money that was returned to the school was only returned after the investigation was well under way, Patterson said.
“It’s kind of like shoplifting and getting caught and offering to return what you took,” she said
Patterson said $43,175.50 taken by Johnson was not repaid.
Johnson became pastor of Stewart Memorial in 2006, but, according to Patterson, no longer heads the congregation.
“My understanding is that the church hierarchy moved him to Texas,” she said.
Calls to Stewart Memorial were not returned Wednesday afternoon.
Johnson advanced quickly through the ranks of the school system. He began as a sixth-grade language arts teacher in 2000. But by 2004 he was on his way to becoming administrator, entering the administrative intern program in 2004. In 2006, he got an assistant principal job, which he held for only a year before taking over the head position at Booker T. Washington.
He was only principal for one semester, earning a salary of $78,875, before stepping down and working again as a teacher.
Johnson was put on administrative leave with pay in May of his year, according to school system spokeswoman Nancy Pierce. As of the time of the indictment his status was unchanged.
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University of S. Alabama professor snared in sex sting http://www.privateofficer.com
A University of South Alabama economics professor has been charged with sending obscene pictures to a minor.
Federal law enforcement officers arrested Barry Simpson, an assistant professor at USA’s Mitchell College of Business, on Nov. 17.
According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Mobile, an FBI agent accused Simpson of sending two photos of his erect penis to an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl.
The case will be heard in U.S. District Court in Miami because the undercover agent is based there.
Simpson used the screen name “Sam Jones” when chatting online with the undercover agent, according to the affidavit.
Sam Jones is also the name of Mobile’s mayor.
A phone message left at Simpson’s home Friday afternoon was not returned by Friday night.
USA spokesman Keith Ayers said the university has suspended Simpson pending the outcome of the case. The university will continue to pay Simpson, but he will not teach any classes until the case is resolved, Ayers said.
The university has taken Simpson’s information off the Mitchell College’s faculty home page.
Ayers said the school does that when teachers are suspended so students expecting to take a class with a specific professor won’t be disappointed when someone else is heading the class.
According to the affidavit, FBI agent George Nau posed as a 13-year-old girl in a Yahoo! chat room.
Simpson sent Nau photos of his penis and of him clothed, according to the affidavit, and asked the undercover agent “would you want me to come see you if I traveled down there (to Miami)?”
At one point, according to the affidavit, the agent asked Simpson how he could know that the pictures of the penis were really Simpson, because his face was not included in those photos.
According to the affidavit, Simpson replied, “You don’t I guess. I didn’t put my face in there because I didn’t want to get in trouble.”
Simpson later said he was chatting with a girl from Georgia whom he believed to be 14 or 15 years old, according to the affidavit. Simpson said she had sent him pictures of herself lifting her shirt and exposing her breasts, and he said he planned on meeting her when she visited Mobile over Thanksgiving break, according to the affidavit.
The undercover agent asked Simpson over the Internet if he planned on having sex with the Georgia girl, and he replied “yep,” according to the affidavit.
Law enforcement officials traced the computer used to conduct the chats to USA and the Yahoo! screen name to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, according to the affidavit.
Ayers said Simpson got one of his degrees from Auburn.
Authorities showed the clothed pictures of Simpson to USA officials, who identified the individual as Simpson, according to the affidavit.
Simpson faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the charges, according to the indictment.
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Teenager charged with murder after high-speed chase http://www.privateofficer.com
mobilepressregister.com The driver of the stolen vehicle that crashed and killed two teens during a police chase Tuesday has been charged with two counts of murder, Mobile police said Friday.
Nineteen-year-old Jacob Michael Cartee also faces charges of first-degree assault and first-degree receiving stolen property.
On Thursday, Cartee blamed police for the crash that killed his 17-year-old half brother, Aaron Blake Cartee, and 18-year-old Richard Hamilton. A 15-year-old boy, whom police have declined to name, was also injured in the wreck.
They were chasing the wrong car in the first place,” Cartee said Thursday from his hospital bed.
The chase began at about 9:14 p.m. Tuesday near Schillinger and Cottage Hill roads, when police spotted the car Cartee was driving — a red Mustang convertible — that resembled a car involved in an assault earlier that day.
Police chased the car in excess of 80 mph, police spokesman Sgt. Charles Bagsby said, and the chase ended when Cartee crashed the car, flipping it several times, on Cody Road just north of Grelot Road. None of the occupants wore seat belts, according to police.
Aaron Cartee was pronounced dead at the scene, police said, while Hamilton and the 15-year-old were airlifted to the University of South Alabama Medical Cen ter. Hamilton died Thursday.
Bagsby said that he could not release the condition of the 15-year-old Friday.
Authorities confirmed Wednesday that the car Cartee was driving was not the same one they were looking for. However, Bagsby said that the Mustang had been reported stolen earlier on the day of the wreck.
Bagsby said that police are still investigating to find out if Cartee was the one who stole the car. Additional charges could be pending, he said.
Cartee was arrested at about 1:30 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Three Notch Road and U.S. 90, Bagsby said. He elaborated only by saying, “that is where the investigation led police.”
Cartee was in USA Medical Center as of Thursday afternoon.
Nicki Patterson, chief assistant district attorney, said Thursday that when someone is killed in a wreck where the driver is attempting to flee from police, the accident can constitute a homicide.
“We have a tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes that didn’t need to occur,” Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said. “The simple way to avoid this is, when the police try to pull you over, stop. It would have been so easy just to stop and we wouldn’t have had to do all this.”
Bagsby said that Cartee was expected to be booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail later Friday night.
Mobile County court records show that Cartee was arrested Sept. 14 on a first-degree theft of property charge, as well as on June 5 on a first-degree receiving stolen property charge.
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Preacher puts dead wife in freezer and goes to church http://www.privateofficer.com
Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.
Police said no one reported 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins missing, even though she hadn’t been heard from in three years. The body was discovered covered in a freezer in a utility room during a police search of the home in Mobile after a relative of the preacher contacted police.
Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said Hopkins was arrested Monday night at a revival in Jackson, a town in rural Clarke County where he has roots. The pastor of Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Beverly Jackson, told reporters that Hopkins told her he was a single parent because his wife had died in childbirth.
Police awaited results of forensic tests to determine the cause of death, but Garrett said authorities believe it is Hopkins’ wife. The freezer was moved to a forensics lab.
Garrett said Anthony Hopkins, the father of six of the eight children, has been charged with rape and sodomy in a separate case involving the female relative and could face more charges related to another relative.
Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said the children who lived with Hopkins – who ranged in age from 3 to 19 – have been taken into protective custody by the Department of Human Resources.
Garrett said the Hopkins children were home-schooled. He said Hopkins “kept to himself,” and apparently moved from place to place. Neighbors called him “Rev.” because he attended church so often, loading the children into a van.
Police said he preached at various churches and did not appear to be affiliated with a particular denomination.
At the church in Jackson, Hopkins was delivering a message about forgiveness that drew encouraging “amens” from the congregation.
Clarke County Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Sgt. Ron Baggett said he listened through the church door before assisting in the arrest about 10 p.m. Monday. About 25 people were in the congregation at the time.
Applicants for ThyssenKrupp scammed http://www.privateofficer.com
The offer went something like this — give me $110, and I’ll get you a job doing construction work at the future site of the ThyssenKrupp steel mill.
That was the pitch that dozens of people reportedly heard at the Daphne Hampton Inn this week.
Except it wasn’t true, say law enforcement and ThyssenKrupp officials
The man making the pitch said he worked for Halliburton, the giant oilfield services contractor based in Houston, said Daphne Police Lt. Jud Beedy and ThyssenKrupp spokesman Scott Posey. Going by the name Jamie Hewitt, the man claimed Halliburton was to displace MACTEC, the Atlanta-based engineering firm that manages the Calvert construction site for ThyssenKrupp, Posey said. People interested in jobs filled out paperwork, and then the man asked them to give him $110 in “union fees.”
“He said, ‘Our company will be in touch with you at a later date,’” Beedy said.
It’s not clear how many people fell for the scam. Beedy said a person who filed a complaint with the Daphne Police Department Friday said seven had given money, but Beedy said as many as 50 people may have met with the man. The man who filed the complaint figured out it was a scam after calling Halliburton and ThyssenKrupp, Beedy said.
Spokespersons for the FBI and Alabama State Troopers said investigators for Alabama Attorney General Troy King’s office are leading the inquiry. Chris Bence, a spokesman for King, refused to confirm or deny an investigation.
Beedy said Daphne Police are just beginning to look into the situation. However, Posey said ThyssenKrupp officials had been told that an arrest had been made Friday. No one named Jamie Hewitt was being held in the Daphne, Baldwin County or Mobile Metro jails Friday night, according to Beedy and county jail records.
An employee at the Hampton Inn said many people had been calling about the supposed recruiter, but said she knew nothing else about it. When asked if the man had rented a meeting room, she said she wasn’t allowed to give out that information. Beedy said Daphne Police were told the man was meeting with prospective employees in an individual hotel room.
ThyssenKrupp has many contractors on its site, and the construction workforce, recently at 800, is growing toward a peak of 7,000. To help fill those needs, the Mobile branch of the Associated General Contractors is setting up a plan to sign up workers for jobs. People who want to become one of the 2,700 permanent employees are being recruited by the company and by Alabama Industrial Development Training, a state agency. None of those groups charge fees of job applicants.
Posey said the company was not very happy about the scam, considering the warm welcome that the $3.7 billion project has received in the area.
“We encourage people, anytime they’re contacted by someone claiming to be from ThyssenKrupp, to call us and check,” Posey said.
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Wal-mart check cashing scheme nets man 8 year prison term http://www.privateofficer.com
A federal judge in Mobile this morning sentenced a couple who admitted to using homeless people to cash bogus checks at Wal-Mart after Wal-Mart as they traveled the country.
Law enforcement authorities said Scott Douglas Myers, a convicted sex offender from Ohio, and his fellow travelers stole nearly $100,000 from 119 Wal-Marts.
“This was no small-scale operation,” U.S. District Judge William Steele said. “It was, in fact, a large-scale operation.”
The judge placed most of the blame squarely on Myers, sentencing him to eight years in prison — almost three years longer than the maximum term suggested under advisory sentencing guidelines. Steele said the nature of the offense and Myers’ extensive criminal record called for a harsher punishment.
At a separate hearing, Steele sentenced Myers’ girlfriend, Crystal Bowers, to three years and a month.
Myers protested the prosecution’s contention that he was the mastermind and leader of the criminal ring, but Steele remained unmoved. According to testimony from two co-defendants, Bowers and Myers called themselves Bonnie and Clyde, after a pair of notorious robbers who traveled the country during the Great Depression.
Bank robbery suspect busted in Vegas http://www.privateofficer.com
He was arrested without incident and transported to the Clark County Detention Center where he awaits extradition to Alabama.
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Citizens corral drunk driver for police http://www.privateofficer.com
Alabama State Troopers charged Jack Thornton III of Pensacola, Fla., in the March 27 incident after Tim Dietlein of Irvington and another man tackled Thornton at the end of a chase on I-10 and the Causeway under the I-10 bridge at Mobile.
Before the chase, Thornton was involved in an accident on I-10 at 6:40 p.m. near the Malbis exit in Baldwin County that injured two people, said trooper spokesman Cpl. Joe Piggott.
“In hindsight, I never should have gotten out. He could have had a gun,” Dietlein, a 34-year-old car salesman, told the Press-Register for a story Friday. “All I could think of is, ‘This guy can’t leave here. He’s going to kill someone.’”
Another motorist — Lee Erdmann of Mobile, a 22-year-old volunteer firefighter — saw the same events unfolding and also decided to give chase.
“He was going to keep going until his car wouldn’t go,” Erdmann said.
During the chase, Dietlein remained on the phone with a 911 operator.
Thornton’s E300 Lexus finally stopped on the Causeway when the hood popped up after striking a sport utility vehicle. Dietlein and Erdmann tackled Thornton as he attempted to close the hood and drive away.
“He wasn’t a big guy, but he was going crazy,” Erdmann said.
Thornton was taken to the Baldwin County Corrections Center and released March 28 after posting a $12,500 bond.
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MOBILE, Ala. Oct. 16, 2007— A Mobile man who shot and wounded a Prichard bank guard during a robbery in April will spend nearly 20 years in prison.
Chief U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade on Thursday sentenced 25-year-old Leanthony Lee Bettis to 19 years and seven months in prison and also ordered him to pay back the $506 he stole from Commonwealth National Bank and make about $1,510 in restitution to the security guard he shot.
Immediately after entering the bank, Bettis sprayed the lobby with bullets, hitting security guard Emanuel Mose in the leg. Mose was able to return fire once with his revolver before retreating into a back room.
The nature of this offense showed a callous disregard for human life,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gina Vann, who argued for the sentence, the maximum penalty under advisory guidelines. “He walked into a bank firing before he even knew who was there.”
Defense attorney Bill Scully, who said his client will appeal, argued that the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence would have been sufficient.
“Mr. Bettis is a young man. He’s looking at a very long sentence,” Scully said. “What he’s known in his short life is prison. … He hasn’t had much of an opportunity to learn better.”
Jurors convicted Bettis in July of bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery and using a firearm during a violent crime.
Bettis’ co-defendant, Rayford Gene Rivers Jr., reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and testified against Bettis. Rivers was sentenced to a little more than eight years in prison.
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