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Some believe justice system to blame for clerk's murder

Murder suspect Leon Terrell Flowers is escorted by officers to the Pike County courthouse in...
Murder suspect Leon Terrell Flowers is escorted by officers to the Pike County courthouse in this July 29, 2019 WTVY photo.(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jul. 29, 2019 at 7:13 PM CDT
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Some believe Brundidge store clerk Neil Kumar would be alive had justice been served.

Investigators have charged a Pike County man, 23-year old Leon Terrell Flowers, with shooting Kumar during a robbery last week.

A judge, in April, released Flowers after his arrest in the death of another man in 2016.

“We asked for north of 30 years (confinement) but he was given basically time served (the three years Flowers spent in jail awaiting trial),” said Pike County District Attorney Tom Anderson.

Circuit Judge Shannon Clark considered mitigating factors. First, investigators believe an accomplice, not Flowers, fired the shot that killed a 19-year old man.

Also considered; the victim's father's request that Flowers receive a light sentence.

Flowers, first charged with murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and walked out of jail.

Alabama's justice system has been under close scrutiny, especially in the past few months.

Guntersville police charged Jimmy Spencer with murdering three people, not long after the parole board released him early.

The situation became so dire for Alabama Governor Kay Ivey that she suspended early paroles.

Then, this month, she hired Charlie Graddick, considered tough on crime, to manage the Alabama Department of Pardons and Paroles.

Graddick is a former judge who also served as the state's attorney general.

Anderson said, with the recent changes, he has hope that there won't be another massacre like the one in Guntersville.

“We've gotten the attention of the parole board and they are going to make sweeping changes (so) that's not going to be done anymore,” he said.

Anderson, who advises the governor, credits support from victim's advocates groups and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for their assistance.

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas supports clamping down on early paroles but would like to see other measures also taken.

He suggests a 5-year sentence enhancement for those convicted of crimes involving firearms.

“People running around here with guns, breaking into homes and cars to get them (needs to be stopped),” he said during a news conference Monday announcing Flowers arrest.

He believes, if such laws had already been in place, store clerk Neil Kumar would not have died.