Hammond Trial

Trial Begins

A 14-year-old capital murder case went to trial for the third time in Dothan.

Fifty-year-old Jerry Hammond has had two earlier convictions and death sentences overturned on appeal.

Defense attorneys are challenging the credibility of one witness in the case, but the testimony of another cannot be disputed.

Hammonds is accused of killing his elderly uncle to get money to buy drugs. Seventy-eight-year-old James McNeal was stabbed to death in August 1988. A woman named Sandra Douglas was with Hammond that night.

She's already testified against him twice and defense attorneys attacked her credibility during opening statements.

But the testimony of another witness will have to go unchallenged. Robert Ealy was a neighbor who said he saw Hammond leaving the scene the night of the killing. But Ealy has died in the 14 years since the crime was committed.

Ealy's sworn statement was read to jurors. The case could go to the jury in a couple of days.

One juror has been released after he told Judge Jerry White he inadvertently heard a news broadcast about Hammond and that an acquaintance had tried to talk to him about the case.