Atmore man released from jail on lesser, amended charge

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Was in jail on capital murder indictment; pleaded guilty to lesser charge of obstruction of justice, released on time served

An Atmore man was released from the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton Jan. 3 on an amended and lesser charge, according to officials.

Yeldon D. Rostchild, 29, of Atmore, was released on time served and pleading to an obstruction of justice charge. In 2017, he was indicted for the capital murder of Donta Russell.

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While in jail, Rostchild was arrested for promoting prison contraband, a charge he pleaded guilty to in December 2019.

District Attorney Steve Billy said Rostchild was going to serve 10 years on the contraband case, anyway.

Billy also said Rostchild gave false information to investigators, and later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

Billy said a lot of the information being released as to the reason why he was in jail is not accurate.

“He pled to a 10-year sentence on that (contraband) case,” Billy said. “That prolonged this case.”

Billy said another thing that kept Rostchild in jail was that he had three different attorneys representing him.

“They’d either withdraw, or he’d fire one set and get another set,” he said. “That was cause for delay as well. There were some issues of the mental health evaluations for him.

“There are a lot of reasons for the delay part of if,” he said. “Anytime you have a case that drags, your evidence doesn’t get getter, it gets worse. That was the case here. We had witnesses changing their story, recanting. A lot of this was based on strict eye-witness testimony (for the capital murder case), where he shot into a vehicle.”

Billy said the capital murder case involved two guys allegedly shooting from different sides of the car.

“Yeldon was on one side and Darrell Brown was on the other side shooting in,” he said. “His (Brown’s) case it still pending. Based on our evidence against Mr. Rostchild, it deteriorated to the point we ended up pleading it to time served on a lesser charge (obstruction). One of the attorneys told the news media one of the judges threw it out. We didn’t throw it out, we amended the indictment by agreement and he pled to it. He served over six years in jail for that.”

According to Advance archives, the case stems from the murder investigation of Donta Russell that occurred on April 26, 2017. Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene, and found a vehicle in front of a residence on Martin Luther King Dr. Deputies then saw Russell inside of the vehicle, and had gunshot wounds to his person.

According to WPMI-15’s website, Defensive Attorney Christine Hernandez said she was appointed to represent Rostchild in 2023, and found no evidence to back up the state’s accusation he shot into a car and killed Donta Russell in Escambia County, Ala.

“It’s not a matter of evidence from the state. This is a matter of it didn’t exist. This man’s been in jail for six years. It didn’t exist? Yet, it’s all in narratives and police officer’s written notes, but it doesn’t exist,” Hernandez said on WPMI-15’s website. “We’re talking audio statements, finger prints, we’re talking reports, cell phones. They said they had search warrants. There’s no search warrants. They say they have Facebook, they didn’t have any of that.”

Billy said sometimes cases don’t work out like one or the public wants them to.

“You’ve got make the best with what you’ve got,” he said.

When asked if he thought the passage of time was a reason why the evidence deteriorated, Billy said there were some evidentiary issues they had to deal with.