James guilty of manslaughter
By By Laura Courson, Staff Writer
An argument that resulted in a shooting was finally "settled" on Wednesday, June 12, as Ronnie James, 39 of Freemanville, was convicted of manslaughter.
A year before, on Saturday, June 9, James and several others had been attending a party at 141 Martin Luther King Drive.
Among those in attendance was Willie Glenn Matthews, a 37-year-old of Atmore.
James and Matthews were standing on the front porch of the residence when they began to argue.
Burt Rice, the prosecutor on the case, said that Matthews wasn't exactly "welcome company."
When Matthews started to walk away from the argument, James retrieved a handgun from his vehicle and pursued him.
Matthews had already crossed the street near the intersection of Martin Luther King and Carver Avenue when James shot him in the backside.
The bullet passed through Matthews' backside and exited his loin area.
Matthews was transported to Atmore Community Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m.
The State Department of Forensic Sciences determined the cause of death to be loss of blood due to a severed artery in Matthews' leg.
James turned himself in to Atmore authorities at 8:30 a.m. on the following Monday morning. He was indicted on a murder charge.
James was released June 13, 2001, on $25,000 bond.
The trial was put off for several months due to continuances. When the trial finally began on Monday, June 10, 2002, a year had passed since the crime was committed.
At the beginning of the trial, the jury was asked to determine whether or not the accused was guilty of either murder or manslaughter.
After two days of testimony the case was turned over to the jury for deliberation.
The jury returned with the manslaughter verdict after only an hour and a half.
The manslaughter verdict was not surprising to Rice.
Joyce Timmes, Matthews' sister, was disappointed by the results.
James' sentencing has been deferred until August 29.
Since James has a previous conviction record his sentence will be determined pending a pre-sentencing report compiled by a probation officer.
He faces a possible 10-year to life sentence.