Stallworth to stand trial for murder Monday

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brewton native Donnie Ray Stallworth is scheduled to go to trial Monday in Pensacola on charges of murder and home invasion.

Stallworth, a 1999 graduate of T.R. Miller High School and a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, was charged in the July 2009 shooting deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a Florida couple known for their adoption of special needs children. Stallworth, according to deputies, was in the house, masked and with a gun, when the home invasion, robbery and murders took place.

Leonard Patrick Gonzales Jr., whom authorities have called the mastermind in the murders, was sentenced to death earlier this month. Six other people were also charged in the crime. Two who entered the home pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree murder; two accused of driving a getaway car face trial on charges of murder and home invasion; another who entered the home was convicted in January of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison; and another was charged as an accessory. The woman charged as an accessory was arrested after the safe stolen during the home invasion was found on her property.