Lawyer pleads guilty
In a case that began just over a year ago, a plea agreement was reached this week when a local attorney admitted guilt in a drug case.
Sarah Elizabeth “Sally” Stoddard, who was set to face a jury on Wednesday, June 19, entered a guilty plea in front of Circuit Judge Bradley Byrne on a charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
The charge of criminal solicitation to distribute a controlled substance against Stoddard was dismissed at the plea hearing.
Stoddard was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections, however that sentence was suspended. With no time to be spent behind bars, Stoddard will spend 18 months on supervised probation and another 18 months on unsupervised probation as conditions of the sentencing.
The case against Stoddard began in early 2012 with investigators with the Brewton Police Department’s narcotics unit began checking into allegations that Stoddard was providing legal services in exchange for drugs. Brewton police said last year’s investigation used an undercover officer who was equipped with a recording device.
In other cases, one of the two Atmore men charged in the shooting death of a business owner last June just blocks from Atmore Police Department was expected to be in court Monday facing a felony murder charge, but his case has been continued until July.
Escambia County District Attorney Steve Billy said the murder trial of 22-year-old Damien Deonshay Jones has been continued until Monday, July 22, at which time the jury selection process will begin. Jones also faces a charge of breaking and entering of a vehicle.
Jones was arrested in June 2012, along with then-16-year-old De’Anthony Dailey, after authorities found the body of 38-year-old Kendrick Lamon Dortch in front of a business he was operating at the corner of Ridgeley Street and North Second Avenue. Dortch was found deceased from an apparent gunshot wound to the back.
Originally, Jones was charged with robbery in the first degree, relating to the burglary of a vehicle found on the premises, but Billy said a felony murder charge was added during a grand jury indictment in August 2012 after additional evidence was uncovered. “They charged him with burglary of a vehicle at the time of arrest,” Billy said. “After the investigation unfolded he was charged with felony murder. After we took the witness statements, we went ahead and indicted him.”
Dailey, who authorities said they believe pulled the trigger, was charged as an adult with capital murder and remains in jail at the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton on no bond. A trial date for Dailey has not yet been set. Jones also remains in jail in Brewton. His bond is set at $275,000.
More than 100 other cases are expected to be disposed of in court through trial, plea agreements or continuations as the summer session of the 21st Judicial Circuit Criminal court session convenes Monday. Cases should be concluded within the week long session. Sessions will begin at 8 a.m., unless otherwise noted by court officials, beginning Monday, June 17, and continuing through Friday, June 21.