Morgan DA seeks death penalty for ‘execution style’ killings
By Michael Wetzel and Eric Fleischauer
For the Enquirer
Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson said he will seek the death penalty for two men indicted this past week in the deaths of seven people at a house in Valhermoso Springs June 4.
Anderson said a Morgan County grand jury indicted Frederic Allen Rogers, 23, of Woodville, and John Michael Legg, 20, of Hartselle, on six counts of capital murder. The defendants have been in the Morgan County Jail with no bail since their arrests in Marion County, Oregon, June 21.
Anderson said he went to the scene shortly after the shootings.
“It was just something that’s unimaginable, to see that much violence perpetrated at one scene,” Anderson said. “This was planned. It was premeditated, and it was carried out in execution style.”
While Anderson said he usually does not decide early in a case whether he will seek the death penalty, this case was an exception.
“I’m just convinced that I have all the evidence, and it’s pretty clear what justice calls for in this case,” he said.
At a preliminary hearing Aug. 15, FBI investigator Chris Hendon testified that Rogers gave a written statement that said he fatally shot James Wayne Benford, 22, of Decatur, Jeramy Roberts, 31, of Athens, Roger Lee Jones Jr., 20, of Decatur, and William Zane Hodgin, 18, of Somerville.
Rogers’ statement, according to Hendon, said Legg was responsible for the shooting deaths of homeowner Tammy England Muzzey, 45, Emily Payne, 21, and Dakota Green, 17, all of Valhermoso Springs.
The crime took place at 522 Talucah Road, where all three females lived, according to investigators. A small dog was also fatally shot at the house.
Anderson declined to discuss the motive for the killings.
“I’ve got a pretty good idea what the motive was, but I don’t want to talk specifics at this point,” he said.
According to a search warrant affidavit, a witness said Legg and Rogers were members of a club called “7 Deadly Sins,” which also included at least three of the homicide victims.
Rogers and Legg “became upset, particularly Legg, over the perceived disobedience towards the club and the theft of several of his firearms a few hours before the homicides,” according to the affidavit. “The witness stated that Rogers and Legg stated something to the effect of, ‘We’re going in there by force and wipe the slate clean.’ The witness stated that Rogers and Legg continued to state that the ‘club’ would be dismantled by the end of the night.”
Shortly after the shootings, according to the affidavit, the witness received a text from Rogers that said, “Everything has been dealt with.”
The six capital murder counts are divided not by victim but by the crime committed:
Count 1 is for causing the deaths of the seven victims during the course of a robbery.
Count 2 is for multiple murders in the course of a one scheme or course of conduct.
Counts 3, 4 and 5 are for murders in the course of a burglary. Under Alabama law, burglary means entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime.
The intended crimes, Anderson said, were theft, murder and assault.
Count 6 is for murder committed during the course of an arson.
According to Hendon’s testimony, some of the bodies had been doused with gasoline and were partially burned. Anderson said he believes the arson was an attempt to destroy evidence.
“We could have had one (capital murder count) for each victim, but I think that would have been confusing. We could have approached this in several different ways; this just seemed to be the cleanest,” Anderson said.