LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – A high-profile human trafficking trial is set to begin Monday at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Former Florence attorney Chip Dillard and businessman Timothy Staggs face trial together.
It’s been almost three years since the men were indicted on charges of human trafficking. Edward “Chip” Dillard has been locked up since his arrest in May of 2016. Courthouse officials in Lauderdale County said 270 jury summons were sent out to residents, to find just 14 potential jurors who will hear the case against Dillard and Staggs.
86-year-old Timothy Staggs was indicted the same month as Dillard. He faces eight counts of human trafficking and four other counts of conspiring to commit human trafficking. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office led the investigation and grand jury that handed down the indictments.
Dillard, a former Florence attorney, faces 20 felony charges which range from human trafficking to sexual abuse and intimidating a witness.
Prosecutors say Dillard worked with Staggs to take advantage of females in the Lauderdale County Detention Center. Once they were able to get them out of jail, prosecutors said the females would be forced into sexual servitude for payback.
Because Dillard was a practicing attorney in Lauderdale County, prosecutors and judges recused themselves from the case. Lawrence County Circuit Judge Mark Craig has been overseeing proceedings.
WHNT News 19 is being told the trial could last as long as three weeks from beginning to end. Potential jurors will report Monday morning at 8:30.
A motion to hold separate trials for Dillard and Staggs was denied. According to courthouse officials in Lauderdale County, it is quite unusual to try two defendants at the same time in front of the same jury.