GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - A man accused of killing three people in Guntersville pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges Tuesday morning.
Jimmy O'Neal Spencer pleaded not guilty and not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to all charges against him in a Marshall County courtroom. Spencer sat in an orange jail jumpsuit while family of the people investigators say he killed sat in the front row, steps away.
"Certainly nothing we didn't expect to hear," said District Attorney Everette Johnson of the plea.
Spencer is charged with capital murder for the deaths of Marie Martin, 74, Colton Lee, 7, and Martha Reliford, 65. Martin and Lee were found in one home on Mulberry Street; Reliford was found in a neighboring home.
Spencer, who has an extensive criminal history, asked for the indictment to be read in court Tuesday morning because his attorney said he was unable to read it. He told the judge he has up to an eighth grade education.
Initially officials charged Spencer with four counts of capital murder. A grand jury added three more.
Spencer spent years in Alabama prisons, but far fewer than his sentencing called for. The state paroled Spencer in January and sent him to a Birmingham halfway house, which he later left. His board action sheet said he was released because he had a low-to-medium risk of re-offending and showed positive institutional conduct. But, the Department of Corrections said he was convicted of second-degree assault of an inmate and escaped prison three times.
Spencer is not from Guntersville and was homeless at the time of the murders. "From our standpoint it'll just be trying to get this case concluded as quickly as we can. Unfortunately it's never very quick in a capital case," Johnson said.
Spencer's parole was revoked and he was taken back to jail. He'll be transported to prison. His return to prison will be decided by the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, as he has new charges. It could be that Spencer remains in Guntersville until the disposition of this case.
No motions were made regarding a mental evaluation.