Antonio King back in Russell County to face capital murder charge

Sentenced last month to 25 years in federal prison on drug and gun charges, Antonio King was back in Russell County on Friday for a brief court appearance.

King, 47, faces capital murder charges for the Feb. 24, 2014, fatal shooting of his 19-year-old nephew, Sayquwan Wiggins. King appeared for a hastily arranged first appearance hearing after he was released from federal custody and brought back to the Russell County Jail on Thursday.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Bellamy started the proceedings then ended up delaying it because King did not have legal counsel present. King was ordered held in the Russell County Jail without bond on the capital charge until an arraignment could be scheduled.

The only people in the courtroom were the judge, three Russell County Sheriff’s deputies, King, one reporter and District Attorney Kenneth Davis, who has been prosecuting King since King was a teenager.

King seemed confused about why he was in the courtroom as Bellamy started the hearing.

“I don’t know what this is about,” King told the judge.

The judge then informed King of the capital murder charge he was facing. King was asked if he had an attorney. He told the judge that a Birmingham lawyer had been representing him in the matter.

Davis told the court that he believed King’s attorney had withdrawn from the case. King said he had not talked to that lawyer in more than a year. Bellamy then gave King instructions on how to request a court-appointed attorney if he could not retain one.

Bellamy originally ordered King returned to federal custody, but Davis quickly pointed out that he needed to remain in the Russell County Jail for legal reasons.

“Once we have him back here, we have to do something with the case,” Davis told the judge.

At that point, Bellamy ordered King remain in Russell County without bond.

In March, a federal jury in the Middle District of Alabama convicted King on charges of possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, being a felon with a firearm, and possessing cocaine with the intent to sell it.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said in March it was one of the most significant convictions in Russell County.

“Everybody who knew him and dealt with him will sleep easier tonight knowing that he is in federal prison for a long time,” Taylor said after the federal conviction.

District Court Judge James Whittemore sentenced him to 25 years on Aug. 11.

Once the federal case was complete, the plan was to bring King back to his home county to stand trial in the shooting death of his nephew.

Wiggins was gunned down in the cemetery of New Hope Baptist Church off Ala. 165 in Cottonton. Investigators said they believe the shooting was drug-related and the killer used an assault rifle.

Besides King, Santago Montrell Davis was charged in that case. Davis was Wiggins’ uncle by marriage, authorities said. The indictment alleges that King arranged Wiggins’ death.

King also was a suspect in the Feb. 6, 2011, death of Timothy Turman, who was shot repeatedly at 1102 Dillingham St. in Phenix City, where investigators reported finding drugs in the home and on the victim. But Davis was compelled to dismiss that case when the lead investigator, police Sgt. Daniel Davis, died Nov. 10, 2014, in what authorities determined was an accidental shooting.

In 1998, King was charged in the fatal shooting of Norman Long, an alleged drug dealer shot in front of Columbus’ Booker T. Washington Apartments. King was awaiting trial in that case when he was implicated in the 2001 slaying of Shareff Lewis, 23. Though King’s murder charge was dropped in Lewis’ death, he admitted helping to dispose of Lewis’ body and to clean the car used in the crime.

King’s first trial in Long’s homicide ended in a mistrial. He in 2004 accepted a plea agreement, and was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading to involuntary manslaughter, being a convicted felon with a firearm and concealing a death.

Alabama court records show King over the years has been charged with more than 30 crimes, but had only four convictions.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams