Triple-murder suspect denied youthful offender status

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

COLUMBIANA — A Pelham man charged with killing three people at a house in Pelham’s Chandalar subdivision was denied youthful offender status at a preliminary hearing Oct. 30.

Herbie Brewer, the attorney for Jon Staggs Jr., who has been charged with the Sept. 9, 2012 murders of 19-year-old Simeon Gilmore, 22-year-old Joshua Smith and 22-year-old Casey Cumberland at Smith’s residence in the 2400 block of Chandabrook Drive in Pelham’s Chandalar subdivision, requested that Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Judge Dan Reeves grant Staggs youthful offender status because Staggs was 20 when the crimes occurred.

Jon Staggs Jr.

Jon Staggs Jr.

Reeves did grant Brewer’s request to have the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences perform additional DNA testing at the scene of the crimes, as well as on evidence gathered.

Reeves also ordered the Pelham Police Department to determine who currently lives in the house before the scene can be reexamined.

Finally, Reeves granted Brewer’s request for protective custody to ensure that law enforcement preserves evidence in the case.

After the hearing, Brewer said he simply wants the chance to use the experts from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for additional DNA testing, since the prosecution is able to use them for its own case.

“The state of Alabama has at its disposal all the experts of the Department of Forensic Science,” Brewer said. “They can only test and report on what they’re asked to do.”

Brewer said he feels the experts from the Department of Forensic Sciences are “honest” and will report their findings without bias.

“I think they’re truly scientists in every since of the word, and they report without emotion,” Brewer said.

Staggs currently is being held in the Shelby County Jail without bond, and is facing three charges of capital murder-robbery and one count of capital murder-burglary, according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

According to an indictment against Staggs, he allegedly shot the suspects while he was committing a theft of property “by the use of force or by threatening the imminent use of force against” the victims.