Deadly Results: statistics show 2013 was a year of tragedies

Published 6:11 pm Monday, December 30, 2013

Since 2003, Selma has averaged nine murders per year within the city limits. A total of 12 people have been murdered in Selma during 2013.

Since 2003, Selma has averaged nine murders per year within the city limits. A total of 12 people have been murdered in Selma during 2013.

For the third time in the last 10 years, Selma reached a murder rate many hoped the city would never see again.

Alexis Hunter’s death on Dec. 21 marked the city’s 12th homicide in 2013. In both 2004 and 2010, the Selma Police Department reported 12 murders in one year. Since 2003, Selma has averaged nine murders per year.

The city’s murder rate puts it on par with many big cities, District Attorney Michael Jackson said.

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“A city the size of Selma should never hit double digit murders,” Jackson said. “Most years, the number should be zero. We have to declare war on bullies, gangs and violence.”

A common theme does not exist among the 12 homicides in 2013, according to Selma Police Department’s Lt. Curtis Muhannad, though five were classified as domestic, meaning the victim and suspect were either family members or romantically involved. Three were capital murders, meaning the suspect is eligible for the death penalty. One was a felonious homicide, meaning a suspect was killed while committing a felony.

Selma Police Chief William Riley said there is no easy solution to lowering the murder rate.

“There is no silver antidote; we are human beings and there are too many variables,” Riley said. “We are going to continue to look at anything we can possibly do and we are going to continue to push people to counseling. In the end it still falls down to the individual to understand that they will have to make some better choices and also family members will have to realize when people have an issue.”

Jackson offered other solutions to the problem. He said city government could help by diverting more money to the police department and raising pay to prevent officers from leaving for other departments.

“The city is going to have to make public safety its number one priority; there just isn’t enough resources,” he said. “Selma loses a lot of officers to surrounding counties. For the amount of pay and for what they deal with, it’s better to go to a quieter place, with less crime and higher pay.”

Jackson said judges could also help to cut down on crime by enforcing tougher sentences and not reducing bond amounts unnecessarily.

Dallas County only had one homicide in 2013. The murder rate in Dallas County has remained relatively low over the past 10 years, with the largest number of homicides coming in 2012, when three were recorded.

Though Dallas County’s murder rate is significantly less than Selma, sheriff’s department chief deputy Randy Pugh said he wouldn’t be satisfied until the murder rate is zero.

“Even one murder is too many,” Pugh said.