CULLMAN, Ala. (WHNT) – Limestone County sheriff’s deputies are maintaining a 24-hour vigil at the Cullman Regional Medical Center guarding accused killer Joel Moyers. The 52-year old Moyers, according to Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, took an overdose of pills late Friday afternoon after reading on the internet he had been indicted on a charge of capital murder. He has been hospitalized since that time.
Meanwhile, Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones says his office is working to prevent a repeat of the premature release of Moyers’ indictment. Jones says Limestone County is one of a handful of Alabama counties testing a digital, on-line records system designed to streamline operations and reduce expenses by reducing the use of printed records. He says once the indictment was filed, it was automatically added to the digital file on the case and available on-line.
A hospital spokesperson confirmed for WHNT News 19 Friday evening that Moyers was undergoing treatment in the emergency room. Since that time, the hospital has declined to release any information about his condition or confirm he is a patient there. Various members of the sheriff’s department have confirmed deputies have been guarding Moyers at the hospital since Friday, but none of them could speak of his condition. Sheriff Blakely told WHNT News 19 Saturday that Moyers, at that time, was breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Moyers was arrested and charged with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle following the September shooting death of 26-year old Brandon Hydrick, of Athens. Hydrick and his younger brother, Ryan, were leaving a bonfire in the Mooresville area and, according to investigators, stopped briefly on the shoulder of Fennel Road. Moyers allegedly saw the vehicle and, armed with a rifle, confronted the pair. Investigators say Moyers told them he fired a warning shot as Hydrick’s small pick-up truck sped away. However, the bullet went through the truck’s tailgate, entered the cab and struck Brandon Hydrick in the back. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bond for Moyers was set at $250,000 on the original murder charge, and $10,000 on the shooting into an occupied vehicle charge. Other conditions of his bond included surrendering all of his firearms, an agreement not to possess a gun while on bond, he was not allowed to visit or be in the area where the shooting occurred, and was to have stayed at his mother’s Cullman County residence.
Jones tells WHNT News 19 that he received a ballistics report on Moyer’s weapon Tuesday from the Alabama Department of Forensic Science. Jones says he reconvened a grand jury to hear the new evidence in the case, and says on Friday evening the panel returned a 4-count indictment against Moyers charging him with an upgraded charge of capital murder. As a result of the new indictment, Moyer’s bond is automatically revoked and he will be re-arrested once released from the hospital. Bond is typically not granted in capital murder cases.
Jones says the indictment should never have been made public before Moyers was served with it. Sheriff Blakely agreed saying a defendant may flee, hurt himself or harm others before authorities can locate the person. Blakely also says the premature release of an indictment can put law enforcement personnel in danger.
Jones says he does not want to restrict the legal flow of information or court records but he says he believes changes can be made in the on-line system that will give authorities more control over the premature release of sensitive court documents, namely indictments such as Moyers’.
WHNT News 19 is closely monitoring the Moyers case and will keep you apprised of any updates.