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Today’s News Headlines from Alabama 810 News

  • Jury recommends life without parole
  • Legal standing of JPA challenged
  • Phipps trial to start Monday in Texas
  • Teacher of the year finalists include local teachers


Jury recommends life without parole 

A Calhoun County jury found 34 year old Preston Moore guilty Thursday of one count of capital murder and two counts of attempted murder, recommending a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Moore was charged in the 2003 Oxford home-invasion shootings that took the life of Eugene Johnson of Anniston and injured Tatianna Johnson and Xerxes Stanford of Oxford. Jurors deliberated for a total of six and a half hours over two days h before reaching the verdict. The decision to recommend life without parole instead of the death penalty took less time, with jurors deliberating for a little less than two hours. Eight jurors voted for a life prison term while four voted for the death penalty. The jury’s sentencing recommendation is not a final decision, but will be considered by Circuit Judge Malcolm Street at a sentencing hearing set for May 23. Street said he never has gone against a jury’s recommendation in his more than 30 years on the bench.  



Legal standing of JPA challenged 

A lawsuit against the McClellan Joint Powers Authority is headed in a new direction as the plaintiff’s attorney Andrew Campbell amended their suit asking Calhoun County Circuit Judge Joel Laird to rule that the JPA “does not legally exist.”, and asks that a receiver be appointed over the assets of the JPA. Anniston Mayor Chip Howell, vice chairman of the JPA said he is not surprised. The complaint maintains that no local legislation exists to establish the JPA as the legal authority over McClellan redevelopment.  The amended complaint filed earlier this week, was made known during a court hearing in the case Thursday.  Also during the hearing, Laird ordered Howell to give a deposition sought by plaintiff’s attorneys on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Howell was not present to give a deposition last Monday when it was scheduled. Laird ordered Howell to pay Campbell $1,000 in attorney fees.  The request that Laird rule that the JPA is not a legal entity is an amendment to a lawsuit brought against the JPA by developer James Coxwell and Anniston attorney Donald Stewart. They are suing the board over a failed deal to sell some land at McClellan to Anniston City Councilman Jeff Fink.


Phipps trial to start Monday in Texas 

An independent candidate for Alabama Governor in the 2006 elections will be in a Dallas Texas Federal courtroom Monday morning.  Jim Phipps is facing charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and income tax offenses.  Prosecutors allege that Phipps ran a pyramid scheme known as “Life Without Debt,” from June 1996 through June 2006.  Prosecutors say that Phipps ran the scheme from Colleyville, Texas until he moved his operations to Alabama in August 2001.  Phipps was arrested at an Anniston post office last April and returned to Texas to face the charges.  He was released on bond which was revoked in October after prosecutors said he continued to operate his scheme.  Phipps remains in custody pending the outcome of the jury trail set to get underway Monday morning in Dallas, Texas.  Prosecutors said that if he is convicted, Phipps faces a maximum statutory sentence of hundreds of years in prison plus millions in fines and restitution to the victims of his crimes. 


Teacher of the year finalists include local teachers 

Sixteen Alabama teachers – including two from east central Alabama - have been named finalists for the 2007-08 state Teacher of the Year awards, the state Department of Education announced Thursday. The  finalists include Diana M. Durham from Saks Middle School, and Steve A. Bishop from Cedar Bluff High School in Cherokee County. From the 16 finalists, four will be selected for the interview component of the judging process. The state judges will select Alabama's Teacher of the Year in May. The state winner will compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year. The Teacher of the Year will be honored along with district finalists at a reception in Montgomery on May 9.

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