Judge: Murder trial a go

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Accused murderer Bobby Wayne Copeland will remain in jail until the Nov. 14 start date of his murder trial.

That decision was made Monday by Circuit Judge Ashley M. McKathan after Copeland’s attorney, Joe Sawyer of Coffee County, filed two motions – one asking for the trial continuance and another for a bond reduction.

Copeland is accused of shooting his wife, 63-year-old Dorothy Cravey Copeland, in the couple’s North Creek Community home in July 2009. He has remained in the Covington County Jail under a $1 million bond since his arrest, but was granted two month-long passes so that he could receive medical treatment. He ended his last pass yesterday at 5 p.m. and is now in the Covington County Jail.

Following testimony from the victim’s nephew, Ashley Cravey, McKathan denied both of Copeland’s requests.

Cravey testified that his “Aunt Dot” as she was known was a “very, very loving and caring person,” and that the family is ready to see the case head to trial.

“We can’t have any closure,” he said. “We can’t rest. We can mourn, but it can’t go away because we have dealt with it. When a loved one leaves, you get over it in time, but with this, you don’t get that because it keeps getting put off.

“She was a very, very good woman, and she deserves this case to go to trial,” he said.

At first, Copeland argued that District Attorney Walt Merrell, who is also prosecuting the case, should recuse himself, claiming he and Merrell, along with two other attorneys, had a sit-down meeting in which Merrell agreed to represent him in an estate case connected with his murder case. Merrell said the meeting never happened.

Additionally, McKathan said no medical testimony or records were provided to demonstrate why the county jail could not handle Copeland’s medical condition.

“You’ve said you’ve been in the hospital three times, but I’ve never seen any medical records as to what your problems are,” McKathan said to Copeland.

“First of all, I would be remiss in if not remarking that law enforcement gets the tail-end of the stick in these kind of issues,” he said. “Persons who are ill pass away in jail, and law enforcement is criticized when that happens. On the other hand, when law enforcement who attempt to make arrangements for the person that is serving who needs medical attention as to not bankrupt the county, they catch it there again.

“The real issue is – can the case come to trial next week successfully?” he asked. “I don’t see how a continuance can help Mr. Copeland or the alleged victim’s family. I think the best for all concerned is to see this to the conclusion.

“I’m not the good Lord, and if the medical people at the jail say his condition is not changing, my plan is to try this case next week,” he said.

As for the requested bond reduction, and after Merrell said the defense has had ample time to prepare for trial, McKathan said there was no need to reduce Copeland’s $1 million bond.

“The issue of Mr. Copeland’s health situation and how it relates to a bond reduction should evaporate (since the case was headed to trial in a week),” he said. “In all likelihood, he will either be convicted or acquitted. Then, the relationship because of his health circumstances all but disappears one way or another.”