Break-in suspect in court

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2006

Judge; ‘Facts blown out of proportion’

By Victor Inge

The Selma Times-Journal

Email newsletter signup

Dallas County District Judge Robert Armstrong said he may be reducing the bond of a 22-year-old charged with breaking in and trashing Selma Police Chief Jimmy Martin’s home, saying the evidence of an alleged murder plot “lacks the basis of fact.”

Armstrong said “the allegation of setting a trap for the police chief is pretty extreme,” but the seriousness of the alleged plot didn’t have a lot of basis.

The two men charged had no criminal backgrounds and had been good students.

Armstrong said he would consider lowering the $90,000 bond, but did not make a ruling from the bench Monday afternoon.

Armstrong, expected to make a ruling on the bond today, said the facts “got blown a little out of proportion.”

Michael Hunter, a Birmingham native, had been living with his ill grandmother “helping her out” at her Minter Terrace Apartment, where Martin is the live-in manager.

Hunter, accompanied by his sister, aunts, an uncle and a cousin, stood before Armstrong hoping to be released.

Authorities were considering adding conspiracy to commit murder after Hunter and the 15-year-old, who authorities said was trying to join a local gang, told police they had a shotgun and were waiting to kill Martin. However, police said they were still investigating the inconsistent statements given by the juvenile and Hunter.

SPD Officer Jeff Hardy told the court the two admitted being in the apartment between Sept. 28 through Oct. 11, revealing telephone records that indicate long distance calls to Birmingham were made totaling $250.80. They were arrested Nov. 8, when Martin said he came home and noticed the door opened and the apartment had been trashed.

The Selma City Council said it would ask the FBI, ABI and Attorney General’s office to investigate the “attempted assassination.” A second juvenile, who was questioned and not arrested, reportedly told police of the alleged attempt to kill the chief to gain entry to a gang.

Hunter told Armstrong he lived with his best friend and his mother, until his best friend’s mother put him out. He then lived at Minter Terrace, “helping my grandma out.”

“I’ve never been in trouble. I sit at home and watch cartoons. I cook for her and help her to the bathroom,” Hunter said. His grandmother was hospitalized at the time of the incident and Hunter said he went over to Martin’s apartment after the juveniles called him over.