HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Someone burglarized Huntsville Utilities and A-Pawn Pawn Shop on Blue Spring Road on May 1, 2016. Through video surveillance from the pawn shop burglary, police released a photograph of the person they wanted for the crimes.
Ultimately, PFC. Steven McDowell received the blame and the charges. McDowell’s former landlord, with whom he has a rough relationship, pointed him out to investigators after seeing the surveillance picture on the news. Police issued a warrant in October 2016, they arrested McDowell on January 27, 2017.
McDowell and his mother, Tam Jackson, always maintained his innocence. Jackson reached out to WHNT News 19 in March. Reporter Courtney Crown began investigating the claim that McDowell was wrongfully accused.
Initially, the Madison County District Attorney’s Office said the person in the surveillance video was McDowell. But, the surveillance photo was the only information the D.A.’s office had as evidence. When we questioned Assistant District Attorney Jeff McCluskey about the evidence, specifically fingerprints, he said some were lifted from the Huntsville Utilities scene but analysis of them wasn’t included in the evidence against Steven.
The surveillance video shows the subject standing at a wall of firearms at A-Pawn Pawn Shop, but court records indicate investigators never measured his height.
When we posted a story on the WHNT News 19 Facebook page comparing McDowell’s photo to the surveillance video, the social media response was incredible. So far, the story has been shared more than 350 times and reached more than 107,000 people. And, with more than 500 comments, the overwhelming sentiment has been that the man on surveillance was not McDowell. The community conversation has inspired us.
Following McDowell’s arrest, the State set a trial for August 14, 2017. Our Taking Action Investigation is already Getting Results for PFC McDowell and it’s our privilege to share his story and the new developments in the case on Thursday night on WHNT News 19 at 10:00pm.