Stallworth to face death penalty
Published 6:42 am Wednesday, October 14, 2009
from staff reports
Brewton native Donnie Ray Stallworth, one of seven people charged with murder in the deaths of a Pensacola-area couple, will face the death penalty, a state attorney announced Monday in Florida.
Stallworth, 28, and defendants Leonard Gonzalez Jr., 35; Wayne Coldiron, 41; and Frederick Thornton Jr., 19. will face the death penalty, state attorney Bill Eddins said, according to the Pensacola News-Journal.
Stallworth, a 1999 graduate of T.R. Miller High School, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the July 9 shooting deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a Beulah, Fla., couple known for adopting special needs children.
Stallworth turned himself in to authorities in his hometown a few days later, as the investigation in Florida revealed an elaborate home invasion plot.
Authorities have said they believe Gonzales Jr. was the shooter in the case, but seven suspects are charged with murder.
A juvenile charged with murder cannot face the death penalty under Florida law.
At a probable cause hearing held when Stallworth fought extradition to Florida, an Escambia County, Fla., sheriff’s deputy said Stallworth carried a gun into the Billings home and also carried a small safe out of the house.