Doster’s case began with 2002 jail escape

Published 12:35 am Saturday, June 16, 2018

Oscar Roy Doster was convicted of three counts of capital murder in 2006 for his part in the 2002 murder of Gantt resident Paul LeMaster.

The story began on Nov. 6, 2002, when Doster, along with fellow inmates Bobby Phillips, Charles Meeks and Michael Barbaree, escaped from the Covington County Jail by crawling through the ventilation system. It was not long before Barbaree was captured, and Meeks turned himself in.

According to court records, Doster and Phillips went on foot to the VFW Post off Covington County Road 70, which they burglarized. They also took a boat, which they used to travel down river, where they stopped near the Whispering Pines Trailer Park—an isolated trailer park that included only two trailers – one owned by Jason Pettie and the other by LeMaster. Doster thought his brother lived with Pettie.

Pettie was not at home. The two men broke into his trailer, cleaned up, took clothes from his home, and then used one of his guns to kill LeMaster next door before stealing his truck. LeMaster’s body was found after Pettie reported the burglary to the Covington County Sheriff’s Department.

LeMaster came to Covington County to do construction work, but remained for a year after the project was finished.

Meanwhile, Doster and Phillips committed a number of burglaries, including Florala High School, the Florala City Yard, Conecuh Baptist Church, and Pleasant Home School.

A Louisiana officer testified that the Remington rifle used to kill LeMaster was recovered from Cash America Pawn Shop in Baton Rouge.

On November 18, 2002, Texas State Troopers arrested Doster and Phillips on Interstate 10 near Sonora, Texas, bringing to an end their two-week crime spree.

Doster first denied having been present when Phillips shot LeMaster, but later said he was present at the time he was killed.

Almost three years later, on March 31, 2005, while awaiting trial for LeMaster’s murder, Doster escaped the Covington County Jail again. This time, he escaped with fellow inmates James Darren Harnage and Darrell Ray Henry. They left in exactly the same way Doster escaped in 2002.

Doster and Harnage made their way across the country in what law enforcement officials described to the court as a “bizarre series of events.” They allegedly stole a vehicle from Kirk’s Funeral Chapel, burglarized two local schools, a city yard and a Baptist church before making their way to Tennessee, where they stole yet another vehicle.

In Texas, they were found guilty in the murder of Dennis Courtney, a 56-year-old from Oakwood, Texas. Courtney was found bound, beaten and shot at his rural Texas ranch. Before leaving the property, Doster and Harnage allegedly stole personal items, food, beverages, firearms and ammunition.

Harnage was found on April 23, 2005, in possession of Courtney’s Ford 350 Dually pickup truck in Las Vegas, Nevada. Doster was apprehended in Bakersfield, California, after suffering from injuries he received while riding a 4-wheeler, allegedly owned by Courtney.

At the conclusion of Doster’s trial in 2006, the jury unanimously recommended that Doster be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. However, then-Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan chose not to follow the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Doster to death.

Phillips also received the death penalty for Lemaster’s death, and currently resides on Alabama’s Death Row in Holman Prison.