Hodges murder trial begins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

Yesterday in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court in Linden, Richard Hodges’ trial started for the Capital Murder of Edward Phillips, 67 of Nicklesville. If Hodges is found guilty he can receive life in prison, there is no chance for the death penalty in this case. The murder happened back on Sept. 1, 2000.

Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr. is the residing judge for this case. The jury selection was long and tedious taste for the attorneys involved in the case. The selection was on Monday and took around three hours to complete.

The final jury is made up of 14 total people with the racial split being 11 white and 3 black. The courtroom was filled with about 20 family members and friends of the murdered Phillips.

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The District Attorney Greg Griggers delivered his opening statement first to the jury. He said the State intends to prove Hodges did in fact murder Phillips during his robbery attempt. He also said that Hodges took the 9mm handgun given to him by Kendrick Thomas and shot Phillips three times in the chest and then stole his wallet.

“Hodges and Thomas then went back to Hodges’ home and split the $200 up among themselves,” Griggers said.

Griggers said Phillips was Hodges’ next-door neighbor, so he was an easy target. He also said that the victim’s son discovered the body and notified the police.

Griggers said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was called in and Agent Johnny Tubbs was working the case and wanted to talk to Hodges since he lived next door.

So on Sept. 2 Tubbs met with Hodges and during the interview, Hodges said that Phillips had been talking bad about his mother and “That is why I killed him.”

Kyra Sparks and Brooker Forte are representing Hodges during this trail. Sparks opening statement said they would show their client is slow.

Griggers started his case by calling four witnesses to the stand for the State. The first and second witnesses were Deputies Randy Sanders and Lee Lawrence. They responded to the E-911 call and arrived to find Phillips dead with bullet casings lying by the front door.

Sanders found Phillips’ wallet thrown into the woods behind Hodges’ house and Lawrence found the murder weapon that was also thrown in the woods behind Hodges’ house.

The third witness was Tubbs who talked about the confession Hodges made to him on Sept. 2, 2000. The fourth witness was Tracey Hodges who is Hodges’ sister.

She said she heard Phillips tell Thomas that he knows someone they could rob because he needed some money to get his car back.

The case will continue today at 9:00 am at the Marengo County Courthouse. The verdict should also be delivered today.