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Grand jury hands down major indictments

Valley Grande pastor William Best was arrested in April and charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse and inset.  He was indicted on these charges this week by a Dallas County grand jury. -- File Photo

Valley Grande pastor William Best was arrested in April and charged with first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse and inset. He was indicted on these charges this week by a Dallas County grand jury. — File Photo

Three major criminal cases moved forward this week following indictments by a Dallas County grand jury.

One of the cases included the indictment of the alleged killers of former Selma High School student Alexis Hunter on capital murder charges. The grand jury indicted John Jones, 16 at the time of the murder, and Larry Hunter, 18, on capital murder.

With the indictment, District Attorney Michael Jackson said both men would be arraigned in Dallas County Circuit Court and face a jury trial.

Jackson said no date has been set for the arraignment.

Jackson was short in commenting on the case, saying he didn’t want to speak too openly about the sensitive case.

“We are just looking to get closure for the family,” he said.

Larry Hunter is facing either the death penalty or life in jail without parole.

Because he was a minor at the time of the shooting, Jones cannot receive the death penalty. A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling classified the death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment for minors. Even if Jones turns 18 before the end of court proceedings, Jackson said he couldn’t receive the death penalty.

Larry Hunter and Jones allegedly robbed a group of girls, including Alexis Hunter, for their cell phones.

Jackson said he was unaware of any family ties between Larry Hunter and Alexis Hunter.

The second case involves former pastor of Living Waters Worship Center William Best.

The grand jury indicted Best on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree sexual abuse and incest.

Best was arrested in April after allegedly having sex with an underage family member multiple times. Shortly after the arrest, Dallas County Sheriff Harris Huffman said the incident was reported when the child’s mother brought the girl into the sheriff’s department. Huffman said the incidents of sexual abuse dated back three years, when the victim was 14.

With the indictment, Jackson said Best is facing multiple life sentences.

Other than providing basic details, Jackson declined to comment about the case because of its sensitive nature.

The grand jury also indicted Valley Grande City Councilman Ronald Sawyer on first-degree theft charges.

At the time of the incident, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department did not release details behind the theft.

Sawyer’s charge is considered a class B felony. Jackson said Sawyer would face two to 20 years in jail if convicted.