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Murder trial ends with plea deal

An Elba man charged with murder and attempted murder pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor on Wednesday after the surviving victim testified that he was not sure who shot him.

Cole, 23, was charged with murder and attempted murder

District Attorney Walt Merrell, who led the case for the state, said he was not pleased with the outcome of the case against Kanavis Malik Cole, 26, of Elba. Cole pleaded to the misdemeanor offense of criminally negligent homicide for the June 2014 shooting death of Demetrice Lawon Hines, 20, of Opp.

““I am not at all satisfied with this result, but under the circumstances, we had no choice,” Merrell said. “More than 100 people were in the Little Harlem Club that night and not one single, credible person came forward or would testify as to what happened. Without the cooperation of the patrons of the Little Harlem Club, this case and cases like it will be virtually impossible to prosecute.”

Attorneys struck a jury in the case on Monday and opening statements began Wednesday

Cole admitted to firing his weapon, but maintained throughout the investigation that he shot the surviving victim in self defense.

Enterprise attorney Gary Bradshaw, who defended Cole, had previously filed a motion seeking immunity for his client under stand your ground, arguing that Cole’s actions were made “in reasonable self-defense and/or reasonable defense of others.” That motion was denied.

Cole always denied any intent to harm Hines.

The shooting occurred in the early morning hours of June 8, 2014, when five victims were transported to the hospital in private vehicles.

Merrell said, “Trials are always risky propositions. When witnesses do not testify as expected and evidence does not unfold as planned, we are forced to salvage what we can.”

Cole was sentenced to the maximum of one year in the Covington County Jail, with credit for time served. Cole had been incarcerated since his arrest the day the shooting occurred. He was also ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.

Merrell commended the Opp Police Department and Investigator David Harrell for their determined efforts in the investigation, but expressed his displeasure “that Demetrice Hines did not get the full measure of justice he deserves.”