CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Authorities are overreaching with a murder charge against an Alabama father accused in the slaying of his daughter's sexual abuser, his defense attorney said Wednesday.
Tommy Drake, who represents the 41-year-old man, said there's no way evidence would support a murder charge because the shooting happened "in the heat of passion."
"Even if you believe the facts asserted by the authorities the most it would be is ... manslaughter," said Drake.
Raymond Earl Brooks, 59, was shot to death at his home near Cullman on Sunday. Brooks pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the accused shooter's daughter in 2002 when she was in elementary school.
The Associated Press doesn't identify victims in sex crimes, and it isn't naming the suspect to protect the daughter's identity.
Sheriff's officials have said the man first opened fire on a stepdaughter's boyfriend outside a store and missed. James Criscoe, who is engaged to the man's stepdaughter, said he ducked to avoid the shot and then ran inside the building, hiding in a back office while a worker and Criscoe's mother confronted the gunman, who left.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Criscoe said he's only met the suspect once, about a year ago, and a "family disagreement" occurred back then.
"I understand why he done what he done to the other man, but I don't understand why he did what he did to me," said Criscoe, 26, who is staying outside the Cullman area for protection. "I was just standing there waiting on a pizza."
Authorities said they are still investigating the motive behind the slaying and the shots fired at Criscoe.
Drake described his client as a construction worker with no previous felony convictions and a solid work history. With the man's bond set at $156,000, Drake said he would request a reduction and a hearing could be held as early as Thursday.
"There's no way someone in his position can meet a bond like that," said Drake.
Supporters have created a website to help pay the man's legal expenses, and $640 had been donated by Wednesday. That's far short of the amount needed to pay the bond, at least $75,000 on which authorities said must be in cash, and the man also will face legal fees.
After the shooting at the store, police said, the gunman rode his motorcycle to Brooks' house less than a mile away and killed Brooks, who served 27 months of a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to sexually abusing the man's daughter 12 years ago.
Prison records show Brooks was released from custody in 2005, and he was living as a registered sex offender at the home of his parents at the time of his death.
Criscoe said he hopes a judge refuses to reduce bond for the man.
"Who's to say he wouldn't come after me again?" said Criscoe.
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