HELICON - Two men have been charged with murder and robbery in the death of a Helicon man, found dead in the yard of his residence after suffering a single gunshot wound.
Bobby Joe Morgan, 39, of Falkville and Caleb David Stark, 25, of Crane Hill, have each been charged with murder and first degree robbery, according to Winston County Sheriff’s Investigator Jonathan Oliver.
Morgan and Stark were arrested on Nov. 27, and transported to the Winston County Jail in Double Springs, where each was being held as of press time facing a $100,000 cash bond, Oliver said.
Law enforcement believe that Morgan and Stark went to the residence of Justin Craig Thomas, 34, of 2192 County Road 40 in the Helicon area to commit a robbery, but an altercation erupted between Thomas and the assailants, said Oliver.
It was not reported whether Thomas was armed at that time, he added.
Law enforcement found signs of a struggle inside the residence, but indications were that Thomas was shot outside, Oliver noted. The type of gun used in the shooting is not being disclosed.
On Nov. 21, law enforcement received a call that a male subject had been found deceased in the front yard of his residence after suffering an apparent gunshot wound, said Oliver.
Family members reportedly came on the scene after the shooting, found the body and notified authorities.
“We had neighbors who heard multiple gunshots, but stories from neighbors differed,” Oliver said, confirming that Thomas suffered a single gunshot wound.
Thomas had reportedly been dead several hours when his body was located, authorities said.
Once authorities arrived, the sheriff’s office deemed it an active crime scene, with the Winston County District Attorney’s Office also responding.
Winston County Deputy Coroner Don Dimond pronounced Thomas dead around 10 a.m., and Thomas’ body was transported from the scene to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville, for further evaluation, Dimond indicated.
A sheriff’s deputy roped off the crime scene, as investigation into the shooting began.
Law enforcement went through many leads, one of which led them into Cullman County on Nov. 23, where they were given information leading to enough probable cause to obtain warrants against Morgan and Stark, investigators said.
These search warrants, signed by a judge, were executed at two different locations--one in Morgan County, the other in Cullman County, according to Oliver.
The warrants on both Morgan and Stark were executed the same day, with Morgan picked up at a residence where he was staying in Morgan County, with the assistance of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, investigators said.
The apprehension was made by authorities entering the residence by force and taking Morgan into custody at gunpoint, authorities said.
Stark was picked up in the Crane Hill area of Cullman County on a traffic stop of the small green sedan he was driving. The traffic stop was made through a collaborative effort by the Winston DA’s office, Cullman County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Oliver said.
Law enforcement had set up watch at a residence where Stark was witnessed leaving in the green sedan.
Law enforcement then conducted a traffic stop as a takedown at gunpoint, investigators said.
Found in the vehicle were several weapons, including handguns, rifles and a shotgun, according to Oliver. The apprehension was made by force due to statements Stark had made prior to his apprehension, Oliver stated.
“Our goal is to bring closure to the family,” Oliver said. “The Winston County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all the involved agencies.”
The investigation is still ongoing.
Agencies responding to the case or involved in the investigation are sheriff’s offices from Winston, Cullman and Morgan counties, Regional Paramedical Service, ALEA, the Winston County District Attorney's Office and the Winston County Coroner’s Office.
*When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless proven guilty in a court of law.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.