Guntersville capital murder suspect set to appear in court Tuesday

Northeast Alabama

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – Capital murder suspect Jimmy O’Neal Spencer is set to make an appearance at the Marshall County Courthouse on Tuesday for a pretrial hearing.

This is nearly three years after the gruesome killings of three people living in Guntersville: 74-year-old Marie Martin, 7-year-old Colton Lee, and Martha Reliford.

Investigators say Marie Martin was looking after her great-grandson, Colton Lee,  at her home on Mulberry Street in July when she was strangled and stabbed. Colton was killed by blunt force trauma.

Days earlier, investigators said her neighbor, Martha Reliford, had been hit in the head with the back flat part of a hatchet and stabbed.

Shortly after the investigation started, Guntersville police officers arrested Jimmy O’Neal Spencer and charged him with capital murder. Not long after that, a grand jury indicted him on capital murder charges.

The Marshall County District Attorney’s Office believes the motive for the three murders was robbery, though this wasn’t Spencer’s first run-in with the law. As News 19 reported in the past, he has an extensive criminal past.

Months prior to the triple murder, Spencer was released from prison and sent to a halfway house in Birmingham. Though he was supposed to stay there six months, he left after three weeks. That’s when he traveled to Guntersville and had several run-ins with the law before the triple homicide on Mulberry Street.

Now, Spencer is charged with seven counts of capital murder in this case and the state is seeking the death penalty. Spencer pled not guilty in September 2018. A trial date has not yet been set.

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