Friday, December 21, 2012

Pardon Me...



Everyone makes mistakes...some more serious than others. Even serious mistakes don't always have permanent consequences, but when a crime is involved, they usually do. Each of the 50 states has its own board of pardons, the government entity one turns to in order to have a crime or crimes stricken from the record.

Those receiving such a pardon are no longer stigmatized by their past mistakes or discriminated against in the job market. If you have made an unfortunate mistake in the past, it may not be that difficult to erase most or even all of its ramifications from your record.

Here is a link to information on seeking a pardon in each of the 50 states:


What of Canadians seeking a pardon? Often Canadian citizens are unable to cross the border into the U.S. because of a past indescretion. Since Canadian pardons originate from a central federal agency, it's often advisable to seek professional help.

Here is a link to a Canadian organization that can help with any phase of seeking a pardon:


We hope each of you who seek to clear your public record will have much success.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Kenny Strickland: He Killed Both of Them


Rusty L. Earnest was 47 years-old when he was brutally murdered three years ago. If he had died one hundred years earlier, perhaps there would have been those who felt Rusty had lived a long life; when he died in 2007, many speculated on the number of years that had been taken from him. All who knew him agreed on one thing: Rusty Earnest had lived life to the fullest.

Rusty left several relatives, among them his sister Patsy Earnest Michael of Athens. The following is an account of Rusty's life in her own words:

Rusty grew up in the small town of Loretto, Tenneessee. There he attended high school and was selected as most friendly, a trait he carried through his 47 years of life. At the time of his death, he lived on the Tennessee River in Rogersville, Alabama, where he had resided since 1984.

He had traveled around the United States in the Nuclear Power Industry since the early 1980s. He had worked locally at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and was working at the TVA Muscle Shoals Power Shop at the time of his murder. Rusty was a Christian man, an active member at Faith Church in Florence, where he served on the greeters ministry. Rusty had a God given gift of helping others. He was always ready to lend a helping hand and would take the time to talk to others, never drawing attention to himself.

As family we knew the sincere kind of person he was, but since his death have learned from co-workers from all areas-church family, neighbors, and friends-of the many positive impacts he had made in their lives. All of these people were devastated by his horrible and senseless death. Rusty worked very hard for his material possessions and was thankful for them. He loved to have people to enjoy fellowship at his home on the river, only to have everything destroyed.

Rusty’s life being taken has been devastating for my family, and only with God's help in our lives and prayers from others, have we survived. It’s something we will never get over, but have to learn to live with. We are members of the group Vocal (Victims of Crime and Leniency) in which we now support other families when the same devastation and pain comes to them.

In so many people's eyes, Kenny Strickland should never get out of prison. Yet as sad as it is, by Alabama Law he will become eligible for parole one day, and we will be there to fight for Rusty. We are now in the process of working on this, even though it should be years in the future.
 
*****
 
Rusty Lynn Earnest's home on Travel Path Road in Rogersville wasn't palatial, but it offered a panoramic view of Roberson Beach on Wheeler Lake. It was also usually surrounded by vehicles and boats that Earnest collected or just bought to help out those who needed some extra cash. It was the sale of one of these boats on May 1, 2007, that ultimately led to his death. Earnest was known to carry large amounts of cash, and his neighbors on the lake front road knew that the boat's sale had brought even more ready cash into the pockets of the health physics specialist.

When Earnest didn't show up for work the next day, a worried co-worker contacted Rogersville police. Together the friend and Chief Ty Barrett arrived around 10:30 to find Earnest's house filled with smoke; both Rusty and his dog were dead inside. Assistant Rogersville Fire Chief Morris Lentz stated the house was so well sealed there wasn't enough oxygen to fuel the flames, and much evidence to the crime remained. There were obvious blood stains on the small patio, but not so obvious was the killer's identity.

Neighbors and family all spoke well of Earnest, but they also mentioned his habit of carrying copious amounts of cash. Lauderdale County investigators who had arrived at the scene now had a motive--what they didn't have was a suspect.

According to Kenneth Bradford Strickland's family, he had been an addict his entire adult life. Frequently family members intervened, and Strickland always managed to retain his freedom. In a 2006 attempt to rehabilitate Strickland, his grandfather allowed the then 23 year-old to move into his lakeside cottage--a cottage next door to the home of Rusty Earnest. For a short time, Kenny Strickland seemed on the road to a drug-free life. During this period, Earnest helped the younger man in any way he could.

However, it was not long before Strickland relapsed and was evicted from the small beach house. According to those who knew Strickland, by 2007 his life had become a cycle of theft, drug use, and more theft to fund his drug of choice--methamphetamine.

In late April, Rusty Earnest sold his fishing boat to a co-worker, a fact Earnest casually mentioned at a local restaurant belonging to Strickland's family. Whether Kenny Strickland knew the exact details of the sale is unknown, but what is known was Strickland's desperation for money and drugs on the day of May 1, 2007.

Strickland had unsuccessfully attempted to sell a knife before borrowing $25.00 from a friend. According to those who saw him later that day, Strickland, along with two female companions, had spent the money on whiskey and was again broke. Around midnight, he decided to pay Rusty Earnest a visit.

When Lauderdale County detective Travis Clemmons learned that Kenny Strickland (pictured) had spent the night in the Wheeler Lake cabin from which he had been previously evicted, the 24 year-old meth addict became a prime suspect in the brutal murder of Rusty Lynn Earnest. Informants reported that on the day of May 2, 2007, Strickland was seen at various drug houses flashing a large roll of hundred dollar bills. After two interviews, Clemmons returned to Strickland's new home in Eva, Alabama, and arrested him on capital murder charges.

Because of the gravity of the charge, Strickland was initially denied bail; but when an April 2008 grand jury indicted the suspect only on felony murder, burglary, and arson charges, Strickland's family provided the bond for his release. Strickland was scheduled to stand trial in November 2008, but had other ideas.

Seeking to place the blame for Earnest's death on an uncle against whom he had a grudge, Strickland placed an anonymous phone call to Lauderdale authorities. Pretending to be an acquaintance of the uncle, Strickland called from a payphone at an Elgin convenience store. Authorities traced the call and obtained both the suspect's license number and a video tape of him leaving the scene.

During the phone conversation, Strickland told of the brutal attack on Earnest, whom he bludgeoned on the small porch before returning hours later to drag the body inside and set fire to the lake house. Only parts of the conversation have previously been published, but family members who are familiar with the tape tell of the depravity of the crime--Strickland even throttled Earnest's small dog in an attempt to keep it silent, leaving its body lying in the living room with its owner.

Arrested a second time for giving false information to police, Kenneth Strickland decided to enter a plea. At the time of the defendant's court appearance, Rusty Earnest's sister Patsy and her husband were visiting in Pennsylvania, but Earnest's mother Dorothy and brother Grant were in attendance. When Dorothy Earnest asked Strickland why he killed her son, he replied that he didn't know.

Now serving a life sentence at Holman Prison for Rusty Earnest's murder, Kenneth Bradford Strickland will be eligible for parole at some point, perhaps as early as 2015. If you would like to write a letter of protest to be maintained in Strickland's file, you may address it to:

Alabama Board of Pardons and Parole
Post Office Box 302405
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2405
Re: Kenneth Bradford Strickland - AIS# 234843


Thanks to D.K. for his help with this series on the murder of Rusty Earnest, with whom he had once worked.

Special thanks to Patsy Earnest Michael for her assistance with previously unpublished information. Mrs. Michael has been especially kind to help with these blogs and wants others to know her brother as he was--not as a faceless victim.

While Det. Clemmons and some others characterized Rusty as one who carried large sums of money, Mrs. Michael has further related to us that, while these amounts may have seemed large to Kenny Strickland, Rusty usually just carried enough cash to carry on day-to-day living in Rogersville where debit cards are not always welcome. Rusty had sold his fishing boat in order to help finance a Lasik eye surgery not covered by his insurance.

We're happy to make these addenda, but it should be noted that no matter how much money anyone carries, they do not deserve to be the victim of a brutal beating, to have perhaps half their life taken from them. We're sure that all those who knew Rusty, and many who never met him, have been moved by the story of this sadistic murder, a crime that even took the life of Rusty Earnest's dog.
 
 
Originally published in Shoalanda Speaks on March 16-20, 2010.
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ronnie Perryman--A Charles Manson Type Murder


The Mascot:

October 3, 2009, marks the University of North Alabama's homecoming. This year's theme is Leo. No, not the male lion housed with his female companion on campus, but those who have donned the lion's suit over the years. We know with certainty that one Leo will not be there.

Ronnie Perryman was a Florence native who attended UNA in the early 1970s. A large, outgoing young man, Perryman was perfect for the role of the university mascot, a position he held for two years before transferring to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

By the mid-1970s, Perryman was living alone in an apartment complex near the campus. It wasn't unusual for the sociology student to be without contact with his family for days at a time. No one knows the exact hour that Ronnie Perryman died, murdered in his own apartment. Crime scene investigators theorized he had been dead a week when his body was found.

Tuscaloosa authorities have never solved Perryman's murder, although they periodically request any new information the public may have concerning the brutal crime. Since Ronnie's death, both his parents have passed away, still waiting for some answer to their many questions. After 35 years, there may never be an answer as to who killed Ronnie Perryman. We hope he's remembered on October 3rd with the others who have played Leo over the years. He deserves no less.


The Crime:

It was 1976, the nation's bicentennial--red, white, and blue were ubiquitous colors, but it was the blood red marking the walls of Ronald Perryman's apartment in Tuscaloosa that brought Charles Manson to mind. Tuscaloosa homicide detectives were initially baffled by what they found at the murder scene, and the case has never been solved.

Perryman was a Florence native who had attended the University of North Alabama before traveling to Tuscaloosa to study social work at the University of Alabama. While at UNA, Ronnie had been a popular student and had served for a time as Leo,
the university's mascot.

After enrolling at UA, Perryman sublet an apartment at the Duncan House on Reed Street. It was there that the Florence student met his death less than three months after arriving in Tuscaloosa. Finding the door to Perryman's apartment unlocked, a neighbor discovered the body on Saturday June 6th; he had been shot in the head and upper chest with a .38 calibre handgun.

Perryman had not been seen alive in four days, and the time of his death was never established with any exactness. There were no similar questions about the brutality of the crime; detectives found epithets on the walls of the apartment...written in the victim's blood. It was in an interview 12 years later that investigators termed the slaying a "Manson type murder."

Investigators finally narrowed the suspects to two men. One of these suspects has never been found. The second and more likely suspect was a long-time friend of Perryman who initially cooperated with the Tuscaloosa detectives. Later this former UNA student left the state and eventually denied even being friends with Perryman.

It has now been over 34 years since Ronald Perryman was brutally murdered, and we may never know the identity of his killer. Yet the killer knows his guilt and carries it with him every day. Let's hope this guilt will eventually lead to justice for Ronnie and the loved ones he left behind.



The above article was taken from Shoalanda Speaks dated September 7, 2009, and December 29, 2010.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Liz Sennett Murder



Charles Sennett was many things to many people. When he met the future mother of his children, he portrayed himself as a grieving widower. To the Sheffield congregation where he served as pulpit minister, he appeared to be a man who loved the word of God. To congregant Doris Tidwell, he presented a man unhappy in his marriage to a profligate wife. To those who knew him away from Colbert County, he was a sometime high roller who spent money he didn't have. If he had lived long enough to be professionally evaluated for his crimes, he would have in all probability been diagnosed as a sociopath, a man who loved only himself and would stop at nothing to get what he thought he deserved in life.

Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett thought the man she married had tragically lost his first wife at a young age. After the brutal murder of the woman friends called Liz, many who knew the minister well announced their fears that the death of the first Mrs. Sennett was suspicious; however, with no living suspect, there was little or no investigation into the previous death.

Charles Sennett lived on a modest income from preaching, investments, and other endeavors, but he never had much money--at least for long. After the death of his heavily insured second wife, many speculated the good minister had a gambling problem, but as with suspicions concerning his first wife, these claims were never fully investigated.

Doris Tidwell knew her minister as someone who took both an emotional and physical interest in her, someone who seemed to need money through no fault of his own. When Sennett asked his lover for $3,000.00 to repay a bank loan, she gladly gave it to him. Instead the preacher contacted Billy Gray Williams, a black man who rented property from him. Williams later contended he didn't realize his landlord was seeking a hit man, but a Colbert County jury dismissed Williams' claims, convicting him of felony murder for his role in the slaying of Liz Se
nnett.

Williams, a Florence resident, then approached John Forrest Parker and Kenneth Eugene Smith, contracting with them to commit the crime for $1,000.00 each. The three defendants in the case were tried separately, but because of Williams' race, Parker had once contended that blacks were unfairly dismissed from the jury pool during his trial. This and other appeals were denied, and he died by lethal injection at 6:41 p.m. yesterday. Smith has not yet had an execution date scheduled, and Williams is serving a sentence of Life without the Possibility of Parole for his part in facilitating the murder.

What of Charles Sennett? Colbert County investigators informed the minister on the first day of the murder investigation that he was a suspect in his wife's death. One week later, Sennett was found dead at a relative's home, shot in the chest and ostensibly a suicide. Why ostensibly?

We have received communications that there were questions about his alleged suicide note and many believe a relative of Liz Sennett killed her husband in retribution. Do we believe it? Nothing can be ascertained at this late date, nor do we believe Charles Sennett's death should be further investigated; however, we have always found it odd that a true sociopath would take his own life. Now the pieces of the puzzle seem complete.


*****

It took less than a month to arrest John Forrest Parker in the brutal March 18,1988, slaying of Elizabeth Dorlene Sennett of Cherokee. In another year, the then 20 year-old Parker was tried and convicted in the murder of the Colbert County woman. Now, 21 years later, Parker is about to pay the ultimate penalty for his part in the death of this unwanted wife.

John Parker has such a low IQ that he spent most of his Florence school years in special education programs. The same can be said for his partner in the murder for hire, Kenneth Eugene Smith. Together, they entered the Sennett home on Coon Dog Cemetery Road and beat Mrs. Sennett into submission, then gouged her eyes out and eviscerated the minister's wife.

Parker had no previous criminal history, and his friends and family contended the youth was not capable of committing such a violent crime. Parker's court appointed attorneys, Tom Heflin and Gene Hamby, obviously felt the best they could do for their client was to ensure a sentence of Life without the Possibility of Parole, asking potential jurors in Judge Inge Johnson's courtroom how they viewed the death penalty.

The attorneys also asked for a change in venue due to the amount of local publicity the crime had garnered, as well as Judge Johnson's recusal since she had presided over the trial of Billy Gray Williams, the Florence man who recruited Parker and Smith to carry out the actual crime. Both requests were denied, even though Judge Pride Tompkins had already moved Smith's trial to Birmingham.

After two days of jury selection, the trial began; Colbert County District Attorney Gary Alverson prese
nted incontrovertible evidence that the two Florence youths had committed the heinous murder. According to testimony at the trial, Parker himself initially approached Colbert County Investigator Ronnie May, a friend of Parker's brother. Parker informed May that he had been paid one thousand dollars for the use of his car and that Williams and Smith had committed the actual crime.

May became suspicious of Parker's story, and further questioning revealed Parker was under the influence of illicit drugs on the day of the murder. Before asking for an attorney, Parker also agreed to a second interview with May in which he confessed to holding Mrs. Sennett down while Smith repeatedly stabbed her with a survival knife. Reportedly, at that time Parker knelt, asked God's forgiveness, and stated he needed help.

Parker's two attorneys could offer little in rebuttal of the confession, and after a relatively short deliberation, the jury found John Forrest Parker guilty of capital murder, recommending that he spend the remainder of his natural life in prison. Judge Johnson stated the murder for hire was so brutal that she would not honor the recommendation, but sentenced the Florence man to death.

Over the past 20 years, attorneys for Parker have presented numerous appeals to various courts on behalf of their client. Now, there are no more appeals, no more chances for Parker to cheat his sentence. Barring any last minute surprises, the State of Alabama will tonight take the life of John Forrest Parker. Whether we agree with the death penalty or not, 20 years is too long for a family to wait for justice.


*****

After the execution of John Forrest Parker, many aspects of the case were again considered and debated. Several area residents have stood by the account of Sennett's first marriage, while members of his family have denied it. Others have again questioned the degree of Parker's involvement in the murder, while still others have asked new questions concerning Charles Sennett's suicide--perhaps stemming directly from the influence of the Drive-By Truckers' song entitled The Fireplace Poker. Parker's accomplice has yet to be executed; we can expect more revelations at that time.


The above was taken from Shoalanda Speaks originally published June10-11, 2010. Artwork by John Forrest Parker.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ashley Fawn Greenhill: Guilty of Murder or Only Child Torture?


Ash Lette, aka Ashley Fawn Greenhill, lived with Ronald Weems and his mother in their Muscle Shoals home on Moss Avenue. According to sources with the Muscle Shoals Police Department, the Brooks High graduate provided the tip that led searchers to the area off Gnat Pond Road where the body of Weems' victim, Amanda Leeth Taylor, lay partially hidden.


Greenhill has yet to be charged in the crime, but authorities are not ruling out more arrests. Other sources outside the police department have stated Greenhill, sometime girlfriend of Ron Weems, is the link between Weems and Matthew Fox who has also been arrested in the heinous killing.

Several have asked why Ashley Greenhill, aka Ash Lette, was not arrested as an accessory after the fact, especially since both Laurel Pruett and Matthew Fox were. For whatever reason, aspiring model Greenhill had become concerned that Amanda's body would be found, or that someone, possibly Fox, would go to the police. She decided to cut a deal with the authorities, stressing that she had heard about the killing only accidentally. Our sources say the three defendants will dispute Greenhill's version of the events, but it remains to be seen if she will be charged.

We have to ask how the participants in this mangy menage found each other. We know Laurel Pruett was so desperately in love with Ron Weems that she wouldn't let him go, even knowing the worst. Was Matt Fox similarly enthralled by Ashley Greenhill? If any of these cases comes to trial, it will obviously be standing room only.

Just who is Ashley? She has quite a history.

By the time Ashley Fawn Greenhill met Clint Matthew Anderson, she had a child and he had a felony conviction. Together they lived on the north end of Howell Street in a bungalow that had seen better days.

Pregnant with Clint's child, Ashley had given guardianship of her two year-old son to her parents, but sometimes brought the child into the home she shared with her then boyfriend. After one such visit, Ashley's parents noticed bite marks over much of the boy's body, along with scratches over his lower back and extremities. The Greenhills immediately reported the child's condition to DHR, and both Ashley and Clint were arrested.


At the time of Ashley Greenhill's arrest for Felony Torture of her child, she was out of jail on bail for charges of burglary, theft, criminal mischief and receiving stolen property.
Her bail revoked, the 21 year-old Ashley agreed to enter drug rehab and was given leniency by the courts. Clint's parole was revoked, and he was returned to the Alabama Department of Corrections where he remains incarcerated at a facility called the Cattle Ranch. He's scheduled to be released on September 9, 2014.

By the fall of 2011, Ashley was 24 and enrolled in classes at NWSCC studying to be a hair dresser. Her online profiles describe her as a model, but acquaintances stated she worked as a stripper. The portrait to the left was posted online ten days before the murder of Amanda Taylor. On the networking site, Ashley has one contact--"Rob Noxious."

Needing a home, Ashley asked fellow Insane Clown Posse groupie Ron Weems for a place to stay. Weems allowed the young woman to move into the Muscle Shoals home he shared with his widowed mother, but later commented on Facebook that Ashley was a "roach" who had brought other vermin into his house. Whether he referred to Matthew Fox, we may only surmise.


By now Laurel Pruett, the mother of Ron Weems' four year-old daughter, had moved into a home in Sheffield. While Laurel was a frequent visitor to the Moss Avenue home she once shared with Ron, friends have said theirs was an open relationship and many believed him to be involved sexually with Ashley.

At around 3:00 p.m. on October 17th, Robert D. Lee arrived at the home of Ronald Weems to pick up Amanda Taylor. Ashley Greenhill, aka Ash Lette, was sitting on the front porch with Ron's mother Laquania Welch Weems. In her hand was a hatchet that she began to wave over her head in a threatening manner. Greenhill told Lee that sometime after Taylor arrived at the Moss Avenue home around 1:20, she had attacked Ronald Eugene Weems and was no longer at the residence. Lee, fearful for his safety, left the premises. It's good to know Ashley's Juggalo props can pull double duty.

On November 7th, Ashley Greenhill reported to police that she had overheard several phone conversations in which Weems and Laurel Pruett discussed the murder of Taylor and the subsequent disposition of her body. Greenhill stated she was in fear of her life and had shortly thereafter moved out of the Muscle Shoals home she was sharing with the Weems family. Ronald Weems then made his enigmatic Facebook posting in which he called Greenhill a "roach."


Matthew Richard Fox & Co-Worker


According to Laurel Pruett's confession, Ashley Greenhill and her friend Matthew Richard Fox joined Weems and her in the basement of the Moss Avneue home around 10:30 p.m. on the night of the murder. A friend of Fox, aka Fox Fudoshin, has stated Ashley Greenhill texted Fox and asked for information on the best way to hide a body. Fox had ostensibly never met Weems before that night, and Greenhill was the only link between them. We're going to assume Fox now wishes he had never met Ashley Greenhill.

Other sources have stated that after Greenhill looked at Amanda's corpse, she walked upstairs to smoke weed and take Valium while waiting for the safety of nightfall. Fox's friend and co-worker Luke Stanfield stated he has known Ashley Greenhill for approximately ten years and has never known her to be a truthful person. We may infer Stanfield's opinion is correct since she certainly offered several colorful tales to explain the injuries she and her boyfriend inflicted on her then two year-old son.

Yet, Ashley Fawn Greenhill is not in jail with her friends. We have to ask why. What kind of deal was the Brooks High grad offered? Life isn't fair, and neither is death. The enormity of this gruesome murder is mind boggling. If Greenhill isn't prosecuted for this crime, the would-be model will undoubtedly be prosecuted for something else down the road.