FAIRHOPE, Alabama—District Attorney Hallie Dixon announced Wednesday that a grand jury had indicted three Baldwin County juveniles for murder in the April shooting death of 17-year-old Summer Moody at a remote fishing camp on Gravine Island in the middle of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.
Felony burglary indictments were also handed up against defendants Scott Byrd, 18, Dylan Tyree, 18, both of Stapleton, and Daniel Parnell, 18, of Bay Minette.
“But for the actions of these three young men – who were engaging in armed burglaries and who acted aggressively when caught – Summer Moody would be with us today,” Dixon said in a news release. The three Baldwin County residents were charged under the "felony murder" section of the statute.
A thorough investigation into the death and the burglaries yielded a large body of evidence that was presented to a grand jury, Dixon stated.
Byrd and Parnell are incarcerated at the Baldwin County Corrections Center on $250,000 bonds and Tyree on a $450,000 bond. Byrd was booked Wednesday on the murder charge, and Parnell and Tyree have been in jail since April and May, according to county online records. Bond hearings were scheduled for 8:30 a.m. today, according to the DA’s office.
Moody died 10 days after the early morning incident on April 15, when she and the three defendants were present at the remote fishing camp area, where they were engaged in break-ins of some cabins, according to the indictments and earlier reports.
The gunfire that resulted in Moody’s death came from either William Nicholas Hearn or Larry Dean Duncan Jr., who had fired warning shots at the intruders, according to the investigation as reported at the time. They were accompanied by Lonnie Wilmer Davison, reports stated.
The shooting was ruled accidental at that time, and no charges were filed against the three men, according to reports.
Three months later the family of Moody filed suit in Mobile County against the three men, as well as against the Alabama Marine Police and John Russell Beasley, who owns a fishing camp near where the shooting took place, according to the family’s attorney Robert Stankoski of Fairhope.
“The family is upset and a little angry at the situation,” Stankoski said yesterday about the indictments. “They felt all along that there were two sets of offenders on that particular morning. One were the boys in some place they shouldn’t have been and committing a crime that would be up to a jury or judge to decide what the appropriate punishment is. The other set of offenders are the shooters who armed themselves up and came down and interjected themselves into this situation where these teenagers were.”
Stankoski said the three men were 300 feet from their own cabin when the shooting took place, indicating they had taken some action other than responding to a break-in at their own cabin. In earlier reports, Stankoski said there was evidence presented at the preliminary hearing that “the Marine Police told them to take matters into their own hands and defend their property.”
He said at that time that Beasley was included as a defendant because of testimony at those hearings that indicated an agreement had been reached between the four men to confront anyone in the area who were suspected of burglary or looked suspicious.
“There has been no punishment meted out to them,” Stankoski said of the actual shooters in the incidents. “They think that’s unfair and is inconsistent."
The Alabama murder statute includes a section, the so-called “felony murder” provision, which states that “a person commits the crime of murder if he or she commits or attempts to commit arson in the first degree, burglary in the first or second degree, escape in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, robbery in any degree, sodomy in the first degree, any other felony clearly dangerous to human life and, in the course of and in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant if there be any, causes the death of any person.”
That provision does not apply in the facts of the April shooting, Stankoski said.
“The statute is designed that when people commit a felony and one of them commits a murder in the course of the felony,” he said. “It’s meant for when , say, three guys go in to rob a bank, and one of the bank robbers shoots a customer, then all the felons who were participating in the crime are charged with felony murder.”
It does not apply, he said, when a customer shoots another customer thinking it’s a bank robber, or if a security guard shoots another customer or one of the bank robbers.
“The Alabama statute is not clear that (this situation) would apply to felony murder,” Stankoski said.
The felony murder charges carry a possible penalty of life in prison, according to the statute.
Facebook pages for Moody and Byrd were still accessible as of yesterday, which showed pictures of them together, and their status indicating they were in a relationship.
“The entire matter was presented to the grand jury, who determined what charges should be leveled and who to charge,” Dixon said. “The law is very clear that Miss Moody’s death was the result of the young men’s actions, and felony murder applies.”