Murder suspect’s case headed to grand jury

Published 10:03 pm Thursday, July 4, 2013

McCaster is escorted into the court room in Brewton by sheriff’s deputies Wednesday.

McCaster is escorted into the court room in Brewton by sheriff’s deputies Wednesday.

A Castleberry man who stands accused of capital murder, arson and sexual abuse in the June 8 death of an Atmore woman will see his case head to a grand jury – but will wait for that date in a Montgomery-area prison.

Collis McCaster, 40, was sent to Kilby Prison after his parole was revoked following a preliminary hearing in Brewton Wednesday and District Judge David Jordan also found probable cause that McCaster did commit the crimes in connection with the death of Mildred Jackson Morris, 60, who was found dead in her burned home at 227 Adams Street last month.

Scott Walden, an agent with the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force and investigator for Atmore Police Department, testified Wednesday. Walden said officials who worked the scene responded to a fire at Morris’ home just after 5 a.m. and, as they continued to investigate the blaze, became aware they were actually working a homicide when they found the victim’s hands tied behind her back on the couch where her body was discovered.

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Walden said McCaster was known to stay at Morris’ home from time to time and became a person of interest shortly after her body was found. He was later taken into custody on a felony warrant linked to a stolen debit card – which violated his then-probationary status – in Conecuh County.

Walden said McCaster volunteered for and took a polygraph test in Foley, Ala. and later admitted to him and Atmore Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee that he had inflicted the wounds that caused Morris’ death.

Walden said McCaster told him he had been smoking synthetic marijuana, known as spice, on the night in question, when he said he also took Morris three “crack rocks.” McCaster said Morris smoked the three rocks and then became angry when he was unable to produce more, eventually throwing a beer can at him.

“He said he snapped and grabbed her neck and squeezed,” Walden said.

McCaster also admitted to throwing a lantern being used to heat the crack onto the couch, which he said caught fire, according to Walden.

“He said he left then and passed out somewhere around Harris Street,” Walden said. “Maybe on the side of the road. He said he didn’t remember.”

Walden said Morris’ death was attributed to strangulation and she also suffered from vaginal tearing, indicating a sexual trauma.

Walden said McCaster admitted to strangling Morris, but said he did not confess to any sexual abuse, nor did he admit to tying her hands behind her back.

“He said he didn’t remember any of that,” Walden said.