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franklin county times

Mills murder trial to begin Monday

A jury will be struck Monday morning for the murder trial of a Phil Campbell man accused of shooting and killing an elderly man who used a wheelchair for mobility.
Jerry Ronald Mills, 55, 194 Block Church Road, Phil Campbell, was indicted for murder in March 2011 for the Oct. 13, 2010, killing of 70-year-old Robert Leroy Presley.
District Attorney Joey Rushing said this is one of those cases that should have never happened in the first place.
“This was a senseless act of violence that could have been prevented,” Rushing said. “It’s sad that someone losing their temper had to result in someone else’s death.”
According to authorities, officers with the Russellville Police Department responded to a 911 call on Oct. 13, 2010, that someone had been shot at 701 Hawkins Rd. in Russellville, which is where Presley lived.
When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered Presley had been shot once and was already deceased.
The .40 caliber pistol used in the shooting was retrieved at the scene.
According to Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett, Mills had originally come to the residence to ask Presley’s roommate when he planned to return an antique table the roommate had borrowed from a friend of Mills.
Presley reportedly told Mills to leave the residence and after they both went outside, a confrontation ensued.
Reports indicate that during the confrontation, Mills pulled the .40 caliber pistol from his vehicle and shot at Presley several times, striking him once and killing him.
Defense attorney Billy Underwood said this case basically boils down to a “stand your ground case” similar to the highly publicized Trayvon Martin case in Florida.
“Alabama’s self-defense law is almost like Florida’s,” Underwood said. “By the way it’s stated, Mr. Mills had the right to stand his ground when someone was pointing what he thought was a shotgun at him and take the action he deemed appropriate.”
Underwood said he and Russellville attorney Jeff Barksdale, who is assisting with the case, both believe that what was reasonably apparent at the time will be an important factor in the case.
Underwood contends Mills felt threatened by Presley, who he claims also had a firearm that evening.
“Mr. Mills thought he and Trey Bryant were going to be killed,” Underwood said. “The question is, what does a reasonable person do when someone points a gun and tells you they’re going to show you what a long gun can do?”
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing agreed that Alabama’s self-defense law uses the reasonable person standard but he didn’t believe that was a factor in this case.
“The reasonable person standard obviously doesn’t apply if someone just gets mad because of a fight,” Rushing said. “We believe Mr. Mills shot Mr. Presley out of anger, not out of necessity.
“When you’re at someone else’s house and that person tells you to leave, a reasonable person doesn’t go to the car and get a gun and initiate a deadly encounter.”
The jury will begin hearing opening statements on Tuesday at the Franklin County Courthouse.
Rushing said the trial could possibly last all week.

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