Madison County DA’s office says credible witness came forward, led to dropped murder case for Billy Cardwell

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Prosecutors have told a Madison County judge they are no longer prosecuting a Huntsville man charged with murder in an October 2016 shooting. The district attorney's office said a credible witness 'was very clear' that the victim was the one who fired the shot first.

Prosecutors said they received this information within the past two weeks.

"We felt that motion filed today was appropriate action to take based on evidence now before us," Bill Starnes, assistant district attorney, said.

The Madison County District Attorney’s office filed a “nolle prosse” motion Thursday night informing the court it “does not wish to proceed” in the case against Billy Cardwell.

The case was set to go trial Monday. For now, 40-year-old Billy Cardwell is back in prison.

"These charges are now gone so now the parole board gets to make a decision on whether he gets to stay in prison on a violation that should have never happened, or does he get out," Chad Morgan, defense attorney for Cardwell's case, said.

Cardwell does have a criminal history which includes theft, shooting into an unoccupied building and burglary. He was arrested in October 2016 and charged with murder in the shooting death of 18-year-old Phillip Montague during an altercation that left several people injured in the area around Medaris Road.

"Does he have a history? Yes. He's been tried for murder. He's been acquitted by a jury in Madison County, that means he's not guilty," Morgan said. "So, that should not follow him into this case, which is what I think happened. We got into this case and some things were not given. We had to find those ourselves which I don't think is correct. After we found that, it came out to be a blatant self defense case, there's no doubt. When someone's shooting a weapon at you, I don't care who you are, you should have the right to defend yourself and he did."

Morgan said he is concerned the police investigator left out pertinent information. Morgan doesn't believe Cardwell should have been charged.

"During our investigation on our side, we found that there had been some stuff left out by the investigator,and we found those people that were left out that we did not receive from the state," Morgan explained. "And, we proceeded to find those people."

Although Cardwell's actions are no longer in question, authorities said it doesn't clear up everything about the shooting. The district attorney's office did not provide any more details regarding a possible ongoing investigation.