Wingard charged, again
By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
An Atmore man is facing charges, once again, in connection with the murder of another Atmore man.
George Henderson was found dead in a cemetery in 1997.
Al Wingard, along with Earl Gray, both of Atmore, were arrested on charges of murder in 1998 following the incident and later both plead guilty to manslaughter. Wingard was given a 10 year suspended sentence with probation.
Wingard was a free man, but shortly after his sentencing Wingard violated his probation and was arrested.
While imprisoned, Wingard appealed his case, said Escambia County District Attorney Mike Godwin, and the case was overturned.
Now it's back to court for Wingard, who has been released on parole and is facing charges of hindering prosecution.
However, Godwin said that this case will be more like a formality than a trial.
"He's already served time for the crime, but because the case was thrown out it is like the charges were never there," Godwin said. "It's just a technicality in this particular case."
The D.A.'s office is charging Wingard with hindering prosecution, based on statements from Gray taken at the beginning of the investigation.
"We're hopeful that he will plead guilty on the hindering prosecution charge and get credit for time served," Wingard said. "He's already served his punishment, but we feel that the record should be set straight on his crime."
Godwin said that based on the statements from Gray and other evidence it was clear that the D.A.'s office felt Wingard was guilty of hindering the state's prosecution.
However, making sure justice is served has been difficult in this case, Godwin said.
During the appeal process, Godwin was released on parole from prison. An appellate judge overturned the case, and Godwin said it was like he was "never even charged" with the hindering prosecution.
Godwin said the case is not, however, considered "double jeopardy."
"It's like the first conviction never took place," Godwin said. "We're back at square one. We've really got to jump through some legal hoops just to get back to square one."
Wingard's trial is set for July 18 in Brewton.