Man accused of ‘gruesome’ mass murder pleads not guilty
MOBILE, Ala. — In spite of confessing to members of the media and turning himself in to authorities for the murders of five adults and an unborn child, suspect Derrick Dearman entered a “not guilty” plea during his first court appearance on Wednesday.
Neither Dearman, nor his attorney provided an explanation for the plea.
The 27-year-old Dearman is accused of “gruesomely” murdering five adults, one of whom was pregnant, in a Citronelle home on Saturday, Aug. 20. According to officials, an axe as well as one firearm was used during the attack which happened while the victims were asleep.
The victims have been identified as 26-year-old Robert Lee Brown, husband and wife Chelsea Marie Reed, 22, and Justin Kaleb Reed, 23, as well as their unborn son; and Joseph Adam Turner, 26 and his wife (by common law) 35-year-old Shannon Melissa Randall.
Turner and Randall were the homeowners. The bodies of their relatives, Robert Lee Brown (Shannon Randall’s brother); Chelsea Marie Reed (Shannon Randall’s niece) and her husband, Justin Kaleb Reed (Shannon Randall’s nephew by marriage) were also at the home on Jim Platt Road.
Authorities say following the murders, Dearman forced his estranged girlfriend, 24-year-old Laneta Lester and the infant of Turner and Randall into a vehicle and drove them to Mississippi to his father’s home where he later released them.
Officials say that while Lester was giving her account of what happened to authorities, Dearman, along with his father, walked into the Greene County Sheriff’s office to turn himself in.
District attorney Ashley Rich couldn’t comment on the video of Dearman confessing to the media or reveal any details in the case she’s building against him. She explained that Dearman has a right to a fair trial and more details will come out with time during open court.
Rich said that whatever Dearman’s reason for the plea may be, being high on drugs is not a legitimate defense.
“Voluntary intoxication of any substance is no defense to a crime in the state of Alabama. So, that’s not going to fly,” said Rich.
Dearman remains in Metro Jail on no bond. He’s charged with six counts of capital murder, which includes the unborn baby of Justin and Chelsea Reed, and two counts of kidnapping.
His next court appearance is Oct. 17.