Murder trial set Monday

Published 12:46 am Saturday, September 24, 2011

Trials will begin Monday in the 2009 murder case against a North Creek Community man accused of shooting his wife, as well as a Florala man accused of sexually abusing and enticing a child.

The two cases are among the more than 50 that were set on Monday’s trial docket; however, District Attorney Walt Merrell said 40 cases – the majority of which were listed on the docket – were disposed by Friday.

“I think that happened because of a combination of two things,” Merrell said. “All day Thursday, nothing but pleas were handled before (Circuit) Judge (Ashley) McKathan; and secondly, a good number of these pleas were the end result of last week’s settlement conferences. Everyone in this office, as well as our judges, worked hard to get these cases off our books.”

As for Monday, Merrell said the state will try Bobby Wayne Copeland for the July 2009 shooting death of his wife, 63-year-old Dorothy Cravey Copeland.

Copeland was charged with murder and first-degree domestic violence. He has been held in the Covington County Jail under a $1 million bond since his arrest.

Deputies were called to the couple’s North Creek home in Florala shortly after 5 a.m. Fri., July 3, 2009, after someone at the residence had reported that, “someone may be dead.”

When law enforcement officers arrived, they found Mrs. Copeland dead inside the home from what appeared to be at least one gunshot wound to the head.

Merrell said the state also will simultaneously try James Richard Downes on charges of first and second-degree sexual abuse and enticing a child. Grace Jeter, chief assistant district attorney, will handle that case, he said.

Downes, who was a fruit stand owner at the time of the incident, was arrested in 2008.