Accused murderer given pass

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An accused murderer has been given a three-week pass from the Covington County Jail to receive emergency medical care.

Bobby Wayne Copeland is charged with the July 2009 shooting death of his wife, Dorothy, at the couple’s North Creek Community home. His bond was set at $1 million.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said Tuesday that Copeland was taken by ambulance to an undisclosed hospital. Court records show Copeland was released at 9 a.m., Fri., Oct. 14. While typically, it is the jail’s responsibility to provide inmate medical treatment and care, Meeks said that Copeland’s transfer was unavoidable.

“It is the jail’s responsibility unless it’s so bad the nurse has to have rescue come and get him and take him to the hospital – which is what happened in this case,” Meeks said.

According to a release order signed on Friday by Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan, Copeland was “having health problems involving his heart” and was given the temporary release to obtain treatment. He is to report back to jail on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m.

Meeks refused to comment further on Copeland’s medical condition, his treatment location or if security measures were in place to prevent his escape.

Copeland, who is also charged with domestic violence, was scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 26; however, his attorney, Joe Sawyer Jr. of Coffee County, fell ill, and the case was continued.

Court records show Copeland’s trial is now set to begin Nov. 17 – 10 days after he is scheduled to turn himself back in to authorities.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said the practice of releasing inmates for medical treatment is not uncommon.

“(Especially) in cases where a defendant is going to incur substantial medical bills that the county would ask the court to discharge (the inmate) during the course of their treatment,” Merrell said. “Then, the county is not obligated to pay those bills.”