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FLORENCE — Courts have awarded Florence-Lauderdale Animal Services ownership of the 66 dogs authorities seized from a Center Star residence nearly two months ago.
During a Lauderdale County hearing this week, Lauderdale County attorney Chris Smith and attorney Billy Jackson, who is representing Lemarcus Dewayne Ricks, agreed that Ricks would relinquish ownership to the county.
"These dogs will now be owned and controlled by the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter," Smith said afterward.
Ricks, 38, is charged with 17 felony counts of dogfighting and 68 counts of animal cruelty, stemming from an Oct. 7 operation by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office and animal services.
They confiscated 45 adults dogs and 23 puppies from his Center Star residence, authorities said. Two dogs have since died, Animal Services Director Cheryl Jones said.
The two sides still are working on an agreement on possible costs Ricks would reimburse to the county for the care of the dogs.
Jackson said the fact that his client agreed to allow the county ownership and is negotiating on potential reimbursements should not be construed as an admission of guilt.

RUSSELLVILLE - Authorities said a Franklin County man physically attacked his daughter after she told her mother she suspects him of having an affair.
Christopher Andrighetti, 39, is charged with first-degree domestic violence-assault, child abuse, and first-degree domestic violence-criminal mischief, according to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
Andrighetti is in the Franklin County Jail on a $200,000 bond, according to jail officials.
Sheriff's deputies arrested him on Nov. 7 after they responded to a call about a father beating his 14-year-old daughter at 100 Town and Country Trailer Park near Russellville, authorities said.
According to a release from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, deputies found two children at the residence, including the 14-year-old.
"The 14-year-old began stating that she had told her mother about a social media account that (Andrighetti) had and that she suspected her father of having an affair," the statement reads. "When (Andrighetti) found this out, he began to violently beat her. He struck the daughter with his fist, a shower curtain rod, a piece of wood, shoved her to the floor, slapped her, and threw items including glass bottles at her."
Andrighetti then told her to clean the mess and she went to the kitchen to get trash bags, authorities said. However, she saw the front door was open and ran to a neighbor's house.
The release also describes the scene.
"On arrival, deputies observed broken beer bottles outside, items that had been recently cut up, a broken Nintendo Switch, and blood droplets outside the mobile home door," it stated. "Deputies forced entry into the residence where they found the home in disarray. The TV had been destroyed, laptops crushed and ripped apart, kitchen items scattered all over the place, children’s bedroom furniture thrown around, and clothes everywhere. Deputies found Christopher Andrighetti hiding in a bedroom closet. Deputies quickly took him into custody. Andrighetti was covered in blood from self-inflicted lacerations to the arms and waist."

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a statement Monday endorsing passage of Statewide Amendment 1, which would create Aniah’s Law.
The amendment is on the ballot in Tuesday's general election and would allow judges the discretion to deny bond to violent criminals, Marshall said.
"As you will recall, Aniah Blanchard was the young woman who, in 2019, went missing and was later found murdered," he said. "The man charged with Aniah’s abduction and murder was out on bond at the time he committed his heinous acts, despite already being charged with multiple violent crimes, including kidnapping.
"Aniah’s case was a terrible tragedy that drew national attention, but I am here to tell you that hers is not the only case of this kind — and it won’t be the last. That’s why we need Aniah’s Law."

FLORENCE - Three men face charges after the Lauderdale County Drug Task force executed a search warrant at 320 Hawthorne St., Apartment 8, authorities said.
Jameson DaShawn Hogans, 20, Deandre Oneal Johnson, 21, and Xavier Keshun King, 19, each is charged with trafficking in illegal drugs (fentanyl), second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana, and unlawful possession and drug paraphernalia, said task force Director Chuck Hearn said.
All three suspects live in the apartment.
Approximately 70 fentanyl pills were found, as were scales, handguns and marijuana, Hearn said.
The Florence Police Department, Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office and Lauderdale County District Attorney's Office assisted in the operation.

FLORENCE - Police have ruled out foul lay in the death of a 24-year-old whose body was discovered Sunday inside an apartment complex.
Florence police Sgt. Ryan Kelly said Tuesday they are not releasing information on the man's identity, but an autopsy was conducted and no foul play was found.
Police received a call to Bellamy Place Apartments at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday, Ryan said.
"Medical personnel found a 24-year-old male deceased inside an apartment," he said. "Florence police responded and began an investigation. Detectives executed a search warrant and collected evidence. The victim was transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Science in Huntsville. After an autopsy,
no foul play is suspected. This is still an ongoing investigation. No additional information is
being released on this incident."

FLORENCE — Just before his Lauderdale County murder trial was set to get underway Tuesday, the defendant pleaded guilty in exchange for a 35-year prison sentence.
Jesse James Parker, 35, issued the plea Tuesday morning in the June 2018 shooting death of Christopher "Devan" Cobb.
A jury had been selected Monday and the trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday. Instead, jurors sat in the jury room while Parker issued the plea before Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Gil Self.
Cobb, who was 23, was found dead on June 22, 2018, at his Four Seasons Apartments residence on Helton Drive after his family contacted police and said they had not heard from him for 24 hours.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly said he was shot four times, including three times in the head. Connolly said the victim's family agreed to the plea agreement.
Hannah B. Burrows, 22, also is charged with murder in the case, and her trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 12.

FLORENCE — A man was sentenced Monday to life in prison after pleading guilty in the Lauderdale County shooting death of his brother-in-law.
Robert Eugene Hastings, 38, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2017 death of 21-year-old Justin Kyle Merriner, whose body was found in a car in a field off Lauderdale 41 near the old Forks of Cypress plantation, north of Florence.
Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Ben Graves issued the sentence, pointing out Hastings already had four prior felony theft-related arrests and was on parole when the shooting occurred. He since has been returned to prison to complete his 30-year sentence. The life sentence will run concurrently with that one.

FLORENCE — The murder trial in the Lauderdale County shooting death of Christopher "Devan" Cobb is set to begin Tuesday morning.
Jesse James Parker, 35, is charged with murder in the June 2018 death of Cobb. Hannah B. Burrows, 22, also is accused of murder in his death and her trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 12.
Parker, and Burrows had been living with Cobb for several days before the shooting after meeting him through an internet site, authorities said.
Cobb, who was 23, was found dead on June 22, 2018, at his Four Seasons Apartments residence on Helton Drive after his family contacted police and said they had not heard from him for 24 hours.
Authorities said he was shot multiple times.
Opening statements will begin at 9 a.m. in Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Gil Self's courtroom.

FLORENCE — A man whose murder trial was slated to start next week instead pleaded guilty today to manslaughter in exchange for a five-year prison sentence.
Gary Duane White, 52, made the plea in Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Gil Self's courtroom in the July 16, 2020, death of 38-year-old Kwame Thomas.
Authorities said Thomas' neck was slashed, severing the jugular. He died in Southern Oaks apartment complex on Hermitage Drive.
"I'm regretful of all of this," White told Self during the hearing.
he added that prosecutors allowed him to speak with Thomas' family and he apologized to them.
Lauderdale County Assistant District Attorney Coty Hand said White killed Thomas after Thomas made a sexual advancement on White's girlfriend.

FLORENCE - The state will not ask for the death penalty in Casey White's capital murder trial in the 2015 slaying of Connie Ridgeway of Rogersville.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly told Circuit Court Judge Ben Graves they made that decision after consulting with Ridgeway's family.
White's case had been set for trial in December, but during a Tuesday hearing, it was determined that it would be delayed, and Graves said he will issue a scheduling order within a week.
White also is accused of felony murder in the death of former Lauderdale County Detention Center Assistant Director Vicky White, who helped coordinate an April 29 escape from the detention center that ultimately led to Vicky White shooting herself following a short pursuit with law enforcement in Indiana 11 days later.

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