ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. – The Alabama Criminal Court of appeals has overturned the conviction and death sentence for a man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s 5-year-old son in 2006.
Investigators say Geontae Glass was beaten to death with a piece of lumber by his mother’s boyfriend, Kevin Towles, after he came home with a bad school report card. Prosecutors say the boy’s mother, Shalinda Glass did nothing to stop the beating.
Police say after Geontae died, that Glass and Towles tried to cover up the murder by staging a kidnapping in Albertville. However, investigators later found Geontae’s body in the back of a car in Towles’ garage.
In 2013, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction for the first time because it ruled the testimony of Towles’ son was inadmissible. During Towles’ trial, his son testified Towles had abused him as well. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that evidence could not be used against Towles because he was never charged or convicted of that abuse.
Geontae’s mother, Shalinda Glass, entered a guilty plea in the case in 2012. She’s serving life in prison. During her trial, Shalinda Glass did not testify.
In 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Towles should get a new trial citing improper testimony during his original trial. Towles’ defense was that Glass caused the boy’s death and then blackmailed him to help her cover up the child’s death. However, the State impeached Towles by discussing how she had pleaded guilty for failing to protect her son from Towles.
Towles was sentenced to death in the second trial.
In this second reversal, the court concluded that the introduction of Glass’s conviction was improper evidence of Towles’ guilt.
The Court also concluded that the trial court’s instruction that “knowledge of the probability of death or great bodily harm is sufficient to constitute murder” impermissibly lessened the State’s burden and undermined the defense’s argument that the killing was, at most, unintentional.
Towles will now go back for his third trial.