A judge ruled last week to prohibit a woman from testifying against a man indicted in the 2012 slaying of an Alabama National Guard soldier.
Calhoun County Circuit Judge Bud Turner ruled to suppress the testimony of Carlette Weaver against Kenyata Demetris Burton, 34, after, he wrote in an order, her testimony could have been swayed by a private citizen investigating the case.
Burton was indicted with capital murder in August 2015 and jailed for a second time in connection with Dequirea Royal’s death.
Burton was initially charged in July 2013 with murder after 24-year-old Royal was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head in April 2012, but the charge was dismissed in May 2014 by Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell, who said the state lacked the evidence to bring the case to trial.
Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh said in 2015 the indictment came after the district attorney’s office, Anniston police and the now-defunct advocacy group Justice and Civil Rights Initiative, headed by Ed Moore III, collaborated to find more evidence in the case.
Turner wrote in the order that Moore, acting as a private citizen, met with Weaver in August 2015 and showed Weaver a series of photographs of Burton, including a computer image of the mugshots of four people who had been implicated in the case.
Turner wrote that Moore arranged for Weaver to meet with a district attorney’s office investigator, who showed her the same image. No separate photo-array or other lineup took place, according to Turner.
Based on the circumstances and procedures used in the photo-identifications, Turner wrote, Weaver could have misidentified Burton.
Turner wrote that Weaver’s testimony should be suppressed because her in-court identification of Burton could be based on the “unreliable unduly suggestive” photo identifications and the “suggestive nature” of courtroom confrontations.
Attempts to contact Burton’s defense attorneys, Rod Giddens and Greg Varner, on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Burton’s former defense attorneys, Bill and Will Broome, filed a motion in February 2017 to throw out Weaver’s testimony.Giddens and Varner asked in February that Turner dismiss Burton’s murder charge, arguing that the state didn’t file an appeal when Burton’s initial murder charge was dismissed and that subsequent prosecution could violate his double jeapordy rights.
Burton was the third person charged in Royal’s death. Kenmonte Jacobe Winsley, 30, was also charged April 2012 with killing Royal and Demontae Antwon Jones, 31, was charged with murder in November 2012.
Winsley pleaded guilty to murder in May 2014 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Jones was released in September 2013 from the Calhoun County Jail on bond and is currently awaiting trial.
Burton remained Wednesday in the Calhoun County Jail with no bond set.
Capital murder is a Class A felony. Because Burton was charged with a capital offense, he could be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole if he is convicted, according to state law.