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January 30, 2015

Judge postpones trial for man charged in wife’s 1993 killing

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James Douglas Bussey

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014 4:54 pm | Updated: 5:03 pm, Fri Aug 1, 2014.

A judge on Friday pushed back the trial for a man charged in the 1993 shooting death of his wife.

In a brief hearing Friday morning, Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell ruled that the trial, which was to start Monday, will begin Nov. 3.

James Douglas Bussey, 50, of Leesburg was indicted by a grand jury in May 2011, charged with murder in the shooting death of his wife, Diana Bussey.

The 21-year-old convenience store clerk was found by a customer where she was working at the Exxon Discount Food Mart on Alabama 202 in Bynum shortly after midnight on June 26, 1993. She had been fatally shot in the head.

In a 1993 interview with a reporter, Bussey said he was at the gas station the night she was killed helping her close up the shop.

Bussey’s attorney, Richard Fricks, asked the court Friday to be withdrawn from the case because Bussey was behind on payments to Fricks. In his request to be withdrawn, Fricks also states that Bussey is not “fully and properly cooperating” with Fricks.

“I want his best interest to be served. This is a very, very serious case,” Fricks told the court.

Howell agreed to allow Bussey to hire another attorney, giving him three weeks to do so. The trial date was moved, explained Howell, to give Bussey’s new attorney, once hired or appointed by the court, time to prepare.

Bussey and Fricks declined to comment after Friday’s hearing.

Calhoun County Assistant District Attorney Sheila Fields said she could not discuss the details of the case, citing the upcoming trial, but she expressed displeasure at the delay.

“I am disappointed that the case was continued because the victim’s family has been waiting for over 21 years for closure,” Fields wrote in an email to The Star on Friday. “Maybe in November we can finally do that for them.”

Attempts Friday to reach the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and Cold Case Unit for comment were unsuccessful.

Nancy Grizzard, Bussey’s sister, said she’s lived in a kind of silence in the years since her sister was killed. That silence has formed a “scab” across her life, she explained.

Grizzard said her sister was her only sibling, and described her as the “sweet one.”

“We loved to ride Cheaha together,” Grizzard said, referring to their love of spending time together in the mountains.

Her sister had always wanted to be a mother, Grizzard said, but a miscarriage nearly kept that dream from happening. She had her son about six months before she was killed.

“She has a grandbaby she’ll never see,” Grizzard said. “She would have loved that baby.”

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