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Lawrence teens face life in prison, indicted on capital murder charges

By Clyde L. Stancil
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2443

MOULTON — Two teenagers from the Speake community who allegedly beat a man and killed him in a mobile home fire, have been indicted for capital murder by the Lawrence County grand jury.

They were 14 and 15 years old at the time of the incident.

Evan James Miller, 17, and Colby A. Smith, 18, will face capital murder-robbery and capital murder-arson charges for the death of Cole C. Cannon. The 52-year-old man lived alone at Country Living Trailer Court.

Miller and Smith will be tried as adults.

The mobile home park is on Lawrence County 87, between Speake and the Morgan County line in the Five Points Community.

Both teens pleaded not guilty to the crimes. They also lived at the mobile home park. Authorities said the teens visited their victim earlier on the day of his July 15, 2003, death. They allegedly stole $350 and a baseball card collection from Cannon, beat him and set the home on fire.

An autopsy showed that Cannon died from smoke inhalation and that blunt force trauma was a contributing factor in his death. He also suffered broken ribs.

The teens gave conflicting accounts. According to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that allows the state to try him as an adult, Miller of 7768 Lawrence County 87, Lot 23, said he and Smith fought Cannon, and Smith stuck Cannon with a baseball bat. Miller then punched Cannon in the face several times and took $350 and Cannon's driver license from his wallet.

Miller told authorities that he was too drunk to remember if he started the fire.

Smith told investigators that Miller hit Cannon with the bat and took money from his wallet. Smith also claims that Miller cleaned up Cannon's blood, hid the wallet and set fire to the couch and two other areas of the mobile home.

According to Smith's account to police, the two returned to Cannon's mobile home and Miller tried to stop the fire by causing the kitchen sink to overflow. Thick smoke prevented them from entering the home a third time.

Both teens have been incarcerated since their arrests. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said juveniles under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes cannot be executed. They can, however, be given life without parole.

Other indictments

Others who were indicted are:

  • Craig Morgan Austin, 20, of 1486 Lawrence County 167, Moulton, for third-degree burglary, second-degree theft, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree assault and resisting arrest. He remains in jail.
  • Jerry Wayne Alexander, felony driving under the influence, driving with a revoked license, illegal alcohol possession/sale and driving without auto insurance. He remains in jail.
  • Charles R. Brown, 52, of 85 Lawrence County 507, Moulton, for felony DUI and driving with a revoked license. He remains in jail.
  • Floyd Edward Carter, no age given, of Jesse Jackson Parkway, North Courtland, for possession and receiving controlled substances, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia. He remains in jail.
  • Brandon Lee Letson, 22, of 4323 Lawrence County 217, Trinity, for third-degree burglary and second-degree theft. He remains in jail.

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