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State Definition of ‘Building’ Prevents Capital Murder Charge

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Limestone County man has pleaded guilty to murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.

Lamar Wallace Anderson, 48, pleaded guilty to murder of Wendy Lynn Defoe in front of Limestone County Circuit Judge Robert Baker.

Anderson was indicted by a June 2012 Grand Jury for Capital Murder-Burglary, Burglary 2nd Degree, and Violation of a Protection Order.  These offenses arose from the March 13, 2011 killing of Wendy Lynn Defoe in the Trinity School building in Athens, Alabama.

The case was set for a jury trial on August 26, 2013.

In a pre-trial hearing, counsel for Anderson challenged the indictment of Capital Murder-Burglary and Burglary 2nd due to a change in the law regarding the legal definition of a building.

Burglary 2nd is defined as an individual knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building with the intent to commit a crime inside the building while armed with a weapon.

The Trinity School building, owned by the Athens Limestone Community Association, was at the time of the crime, and is currently, empty and in a state of great disrepair.   At the time of the crime, the only piece of furniture contained within the building was one desk where the body of Wendy Lynn Defoe was discovered.

In the Court of Appeals’ ruling a building which is empty and in a state of disrepair must be used for storage or the structure itself cannot be a building under the laws of the State of Alabama.

In light of the ruling of the Court of Appeals, the issue of capital murder in this case was going to be decided by one desk sitting in the empty Trinity School building.  The Limestone County District Attorney’s office decided not to take the chance that Anderson could win an appeal, so they took the death penalty off the table.