Limestone double homicide bound over to grand jury, preliminary hearing reveals details

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - The 19-year-old facing two capital murder charges had his preliminary hearing before Judge Matthew Huggins Tuesday.

Following the cross-examination, the judge bound the case over to a grand jury.

With handcuffs and shackles around his hands and feet, Jacob Copeland sat next to his defense attorney Bruce Gardner as Limestone County Investigator Rodney McAbee testified.

Through cross examination, McAbee explained deputies were called to Analicia Drive where Damian Blake Ricketts, 21, of Hazel Green, and Devin Edward Richard, 22, of Huntsville were fatally shot.

McAbee says, according to Copeland's statement, he met the two the day before the shooting at a party in Madison. Copeland told investigators the two asked him for marijuana; the three then rode to an ATM to get cash for the transaction, but the two had insufficient funds so they returned to the party. McAbee said Copeland said he and the victims discussed exchanging a gun for the marijuana but decided against it. He also told investigators the duo pressured him into buying heroin, a drug he doesn't use.

The next day, before sunrise, the duo texted Copeland accusing him of stealing their gun the night before, McAbee said. He says they demanded the return of the gun, or the cash value of the gun. Copeland maintains he never took the gun. He said the victims agreed to share their location, and Copeland met them there. This was on Analicia Drive.

According to McAbee, Copeland told investigators he tried to give them what he had, which was marijuana, pills, and the heroin he bought the night before. His statement goes on to say that he was standing on the passenger side of the car, when one of the victims pointed a gun at him demanding more. At that point, according to McAbee, Copeland says he 'fake-cried' and reached behind his back, pulled his own gun from his waistband and fired.

While on the stand, McAbee explains that gun turned out to be an airsoft rifle. He says Copeland told them that he thought the gun was real and that after he fired, he reached into the passenger-side window, took the airsoft rifle, wiped his fingerprints from the door and went to his Madison home. McAbee says Copeland admitted to burning his clothes, tossing his gun into waters at a wildlife refuge, and hiding the airsoft rifle.

McAbee says the teenager became a person of interest when it was revealed he was the last person contacted by the victims. He says they went to his home in Madison and he was on the front porch rolling a marijuana cigarette and ran toward the backyard once he saw deputies. McAbee says as Copeland ran, he dropped pills and marijuana before he was apprehended.

The investigator explained Copeland was questioned and gave a statement. He says they have recovered the airsoft rifle.

Now, it is up to a grand jury to decide whether to indict Copeland.