Lisa Graham's attorneys file to dismiss case on double jeopardy grounds in 2007 murder-for-hire case

tstevens@ledger-enquirer.comMay 21, 2013 

Lisa Graham

A Russell County mother accused of hiring a man to kill her 20-year-old daughter in 2007 and facing a possible death penalty, is asking an Alabama Circuit Court judge to throw out her murder charges.

According to Alabama court documents, attorneys representing 45-year-old Lisa Graham filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the case. Graham's attorneys, Margaret Brown and Robert Poole, argued that since a mistrial was declared in September 2012 due to health issues of Circuit Court Judge George R. Greene, the pending trial set for July 22 would constitute double jeopardy.

The hearing date for the dismissal motion has been set for July 3.

Attempts to reach Brown and District Attorney Ken Davis were unsuccessful. Poole declined comment, citing a gag order.

Graham, who was arrested in July 2007 and charged with the capital murder of her daughter, Shea Graham, was initially tried last year at Russell County Circuit Court.

However, on the third day of testimony, Greene abruptly declared a mistrial, citing personal health issues. The trial date was reset, prompting Brown and Poole to file for dismissal.

Poole and Brown argued in the dismissal document that the September trial, coupled with claims that their client was "kept in the dark concerning the circumstances of the mistrial," constituted a breach of Graham's constitutional rights.

"Jeopardy attached in this case when the jury was empanelled and sworn," the attorneys wrote in their May 3 motion to dismiss. "With this case again being set for trial, the State is attempting to, for a second time, subject (Graham) to prosecution for the same offense in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

Shea Graham's body was found nearly six years ago with multiple gunshot wounds in a pool of a blood and urine off a rural road near Alabama Highway 165. Graham allegedly asked Kenneth Walton, who worked for her husband, to kill her daughter after frequent family conflicts.

According to a Sept. 21, 2012, Ledger-Enquirer report, authorities said Graham feared her daughter would jump bail on charges involving a drive-by shooting in Columbus.

"I told you that child would ruin my life, didn't I?" Graham said of her daughter during a video-taped conversation with her husband. "She's dead, and she's still haunting me."

On Oct. 29, 2012, Poole and Brown filed a motion seeking the disqualification of all the judges in Russell County except Greene, claiming that every other judge had a conflict of interest with the case.

The attorneys claim that Judge Michael Bellamy was disqualified because he is kin to Walton. Judge David Johnson was assigned to the case as an assistant district attorney before taking the bench, therefore disqualifying him. Johnson was assigned the case Oct. 30, 2012, and recused himself the same day, according to the May 3 document.

The defense claims that Greene never withdrew or announced his recusal from the case.

On Nov. 16, 2012, Judge Jacob A. Walker III was assigned to hear Graham's case and set a new trial date for July 22, 2013.

Graham's attorney's claim that these incidents, including the newly set trial date, "have worked together to deny her all of her basic Constitutional rights."

Graham was released from Russell County Jail on Jan. 3 on a $250,000 bond after having been held there since July 2007. The $250,000 bond was reduced from the original $2 million.

Under the terms of Graham's release, she must submit to random drug testing, live at her mother's home in Ladonia and wear an ankle-monitoring bracelet. She is prohibited from leaving Russell County.

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