The woman accused of hiring a hit man in 2007 to kill her daughter likely will face trial in 2015 after the Alabama Supreme Court denied her latest appeal last Friday, according to Russell County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Graham III.
Stephanie Shea Graham was found dead July 5, 2007, on Bowden Road, between U.S. 431 and Alabama 165 near Pittsview, Ala. Her mother, Lisa Graham, appealed to the state's highest court Oct. 17 after the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals denied Graham's claim that to try her again for her daughter's homicide would constitute double jeopardy.
The Alabama Supreme Court's ruling came 10 months after the appeal in just one sentence: "The petition for writ of mandamus in this cause is denied."
After years of delay, Lisa Graham's murder trial finally began in September 2012, but Judge George Greene declared a mistrial on Sept. 25, 2012, saying he no longer could preside because of his poor health. He retired from the bench December 2013 and died Jan. 1.
Lisa Graham's attorneys argued Greene could have carried on, but the judge felt compelled by Chief Circuit Judge Al Johnson to cut the proceedings short. If Greene did not on his own decide his ailments required a mistrial, that raises doubt that discontinuing the trial was by law a "manifest necessity," with no alternative. If a mistrial wasn't necessary, then retrying Graham would constitute double jeopardy, prohibited by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by the Alabama constitution, the defense contended.
Lee County Judge Jacob A. Walker III is now the presiding judge for the case. ADA Jamie Graham said Tuesday he's filed a motion for a scheduling conference to take place. Jamie Graham believes the trial will last about three weeks. Asked when he believes the trial will be scheduled, he said he'd "be very surprised if it happened this year."
"We have to figure out a schedule with all of the attorneys and a good time for Judge Walker to be here," Jamie Graham said. Lisa Graham is being represented by Margaret Young Brown, of Auburn, Ala.
Jailed five years while awaiting a trial repeatedly delayed, Graham today is free on bond.
She is accused of hiring Kenneth Walton to kill her 20-year-old daughter, whom Walton shot six times in the head and torso before leaving the body on Bowden Road.
Investigators said Walton confessed to the homicide, acting it out for them. He told them he killed the daughter at the behest of her mother, who promised to support him if he complied.
Officers said Lisa Graham was frustrated by her daughter's drug use and feared Shea Graham would jump bail on charges she faced in a drive-by shooting in Columbus. She was due in court the morning her body was found.
Walton pleaded guilty June 14, 2012, and was sentenced to life in prison, with possible parole. He has agreed to testify against Lisa Graham.