A man charged with several counts of capital murder and kidnapping after a quintuple murder in south Alabama last year has requested to visit the scene of the murders.
Derrick Dearman, 28, was indicted in March on six counts of capital murder and two counts of first-degree kidnapping. He is being held in the Mobile County Jail without bond.
His trial date has been set for January 2, 2018. Dearman was charged with the August 2016 slayings of Robert Lee Brown, 26; Chelsea Marie Reed, 22; Justin Kaleb Reed, 23; Joseph Adam Turner, 26; Shannon Melissa Randall, 35. The sixth murder charge was filed because Chelsea Reed was five months pregnant with her and Justin Reed's first child.
Court records show Dearman, of Mississippi, requested to visit the home where the murders occurred, located in the 17000 block of Jim Platt Road, with his attorneys to discuss the case. A motion filed by his attorneys Jason Darley and James B. Vollmer states, "in order to provide effective assistance of counsel... it is necessary that defense counsel view the crime scene in the presence of [Dearman]."
Since the home was destroyed by a fire one month after the murders and the "complicated nature of these cases," the request states Dearman believes that there is no way for him to explain the situation to his attorneys. His attorneys will need to take pictures, take measurements, and investigate the scene-- which the motion states the attorneys cannot do without Dearman.
Denial of this request would be denying Dearman's rights to due process of law, the request states.
Mobile County Circuit Judge Rick Stout has not yet ruled on the issue.
Dearman's estranged girlfriend, Laneta Lester, had fled to her relative's home on Jim Platt Road in Citronelle after she said Dearman was abusive. In the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2016, police said Dearman came to the home and Lester called police to report him for trespassing.
When police arrived, they could not locate Dearman and left. Sometime between 1:15 a.m. and daylight, Dearman returned to the home. His indictment shows Dearman killed each of the victims by shooting them and/or chopping them with an axe. An infant was found unharmed at the scene.
Police said Dearman forcing Lester to come with him in a car he stole from the home. Lester grabbed another infant, who was also unharmed, and took the child with her. Dearman drove Lester and the infant to his father's home in Mississippi, where police said Dearman then told his father what he had done. He released Lester and the baby.
Lester took the car and drove herself and the baby back to Citronelle, where she went to the police department and told investigators what happened.