MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Though in-person hearings resumed at the Madison County courthouse this week, jury trials have not. Several death penalty cases were scheduled to be tried in Madison County this year. One of which was scheduled to begin while the courts were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hearings have begun in a limited way at the Madison County courthouse. District attorney Rob Broussard knows a lot of the work his office has to do is still on hold. The Alabama Supreme Court ordered that jury trials could not resume until after September 14th.
“Anything we deal with is always after the fact. By definition it’s probably going to be two years or so until it’s finally ready to go to trial for a number of reasons. So, it’s kind of the world we live in and for this to come into play it’s not fundamentally different than what we normally do, except now we’re tacking on another 6 month delay,” Broussard explained.
2020 is a little different than other years though. Six death penalty cases were waiting to be tried at the Madison County Courthouse this year.
“As far as death penalty cases that are ready to be tried on both sides, for six of them to be scheduled in one calendar year I think is undoubtedly more than average, you know? Probably average you would have two or three,” he said.
The first death penalty case on the 2020 calendar involves Warren Hardy. He is charged with killing 72-year-old Kathleen Lundy, of Huntsville, during a crime spree in August 2016. A status conference has been set in this case for June 10th.
Trials were also set for a husband and wife accused of murdering a family in New Market and setting their house on fire. Christopher Henderson’s trial was set for June 8th. Rhonda Carlson was scheduled for October 19th.
WHNT News 19 was told by prosecutors last year the three other cases did not have trial dates, but were expected to take place in 2020.
One of those cases involved two individuals who are awaiting trail. Isreal Palomino and Yani Aguilar are accused of killing Oralia Mendoza and her 13-year-old granddaughter Mariah Lopez in June 2018.
The other trial is for Otis Mayes. He’s charged with killing two women in Five Points in September 2017.
Broussard says at this time it’s still unclear when these six cases could go to trial. He says if trials can resume in September. “I would think the judges would get things on track pretty quickly. But it’s not going to be September 14th. Maybe it will be a month after September 14th, but that just remains to be seen,” he said.