Grand jury no bills murder case
A Covington County grand jury last week “no-billed” charges against Opp and Kinston men in the August death of an Opp man.
The Opp Police Department had charged Carlton Hunter Brooks, 19, of Kinston, and Marquez Deundra Hinton, 21, of Opp, with capital murder in the death of Michael Jermaine Mount, 27, also of Opp.
District Attorney Walt Merrell said the state’s presentment of its case to the grand jury took all day on Wednesday and most of the day on Thursday. The state called every eyewitness to give his or her account of Mount’s death, he said.
“We tried not to leave any stone unturned in our presentment,” he said.
In a Nov. 4 preliminary hearing, Opp Police Department Investigator Mark Kyzar testified testified that on the day of Mount’s death, the investigation shows, Hinton and Brooks were walking together toward Pizza Hut, where Hinton worked, when they encountered Mount in a vehicle. Some witnesses, he said, indicated that Mount was driving on the sidewalk where the two defendants were walking in an attempt to hit them.
Brooks told investigators that he jumped to move away from the car, fired, and hit Mount. Mount drove to the Circle C Convenience store, went inside for help, collapsed, and was pronounced dead at Mizell Memorial Hospital.
Hinton and Mount had also had an altercation of sorts on the previous night, testimony in the preliminary hearing showed. Kyzar said his investigation showed that Hinton had called Mount gay. Mount “choked him down,” Kyzar said, and Hinton later fired a shot that struck Mount’s vehicle. Hinton was charged wtih firing into a an occupied vehicle and attempted murder as a result of that incident.
The district attorney said he could not comment on any other charges the grand jury might have upheld in the case until those charges are processed through the circuit clerk’s office.
Riley Powell and Rod Sylvester are representing Hinton; Manish Patel, Chris Sledge, and Gypsy Smith represent Brooks.
Powell said it was obvious to him that the grand jury believes the actions of Hinton and Brooks were in self defense.
State law says “a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person;” and specifically, “who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has the right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.” (Code of Alabama 13-3-23)
“My client was very gratified to find that the Covington County grand jury agreed with our interpretation of the facts that occurred in this case,” he said. “We deeply regret this tragedy occurred, and further regret the incarceration time my client has endured since his arrest on the initial charges.”
Both Hinton and Brooks have been in jail since August. After their arrests, they were transferred to facilities outside of Covington County for their own safety.