Mother of defendant in case of Somerville murder claims victim sexually assaulted her as a child
By David Gambino
For the Enquirer
The mother of a Huntsville man accused of fatally shooting a Somerville man in June said Thursday the victim sexually assaulted her when she was 13 years old. Her son previously told a witness he killed the man because of his mother’s allegations, according to an investigator affidavit.
Charles Theodore Spears, 33, is charged with murder in the death of Ronald Richard Morgan, 61, near the 200-block of Lenox Lane in the Union Hill community of Somerville on June 11.
Spears was transferred from jail to a Morgan County courtroom Thursday for a preliminary hearing. After the hearing, District Judge Shelly Waters found probable cause and bound the case over to the grand jury.
The only witness called at the hearing was Morgan County sheriff’s Investigator Caleb Brooks. Direct examination was by Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Shiver and cross-examination by defense lawyer Russ Prickett. Nancy Spears, the mother of the defendant, discussed the old alleged incident outside the courtroom after the hearing.
Brooks testified he spoke to two witnesses at the scene where he found Morgan dead from gunshot wounds in a chair outside his shed: a female witness who lived on Morgan’s property and a neighbor.
Brooks said investigators also collected four .45-caliber shell casings at the scene, and the investigation led them to an off-scene witness.
According to the off-scene witness, Brooks said, Spears and another male came to his residence and talked about what happened. The witness said Spears claimed he shot Morgan because of an “incident” involving a family member, according to Brooks.
Brooks did not elaborate on the incident in court; however, according to Brooks’ affidavit filed on June 12, the witness said that “Spears stated he killed Morgan because he had raped his mother when she was 13 years old.”
After speaking to the witness, Brooks said he and fellow investigator Corey Cochran were “riding around” when they saw a motorcycle parked behind a gas station. Brooks said the motorcycle was suspicious because the rear of the building faces a wooded area.
Brooks added that Sheriff’s Office personnel knew the owner and that “nobody is supposed to be there.”
Spears was located nearby and consented to a search by investigators, according to Brooks. The search found a .45-caliber Glock in Spears’ riding vest.
Investigators also spoke to Spears’ half-brother, Ryan Fitzgerald, who Brooks said admitted to driving to a property unknown to him late in the evening on June 10th.
According to the affidavit, Fitzgerald said he waited at the end of the lane and parked the vehicle after Spears exited.
Fitzgerald claimed he heard several gunshots prior to Spears reentering the vehicle and telling him, “We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go.”
Spears initially waived his Miranda rights, according to Brooks, but asked for a lawyer when questioned about the murder. Shiver suggested that Spears’ initial answers were “self-serving,” and Brooks agreed.
Shiver asked Brooks to point out the defendant in the courtroom, and Brooks pointed to Spears who sat slouched, shackled and emotionless.
On cross-examination, Prickett asked Brooks if the on-scene female witness identified Spears through a lineup.
Brooks said investigators didn’t conduct a lineup, but followed up with the witness after detaining Spears, whereupon she had identified him as the perpetrator from a photograph on social media.
Prickett, puzzled, asked why she had not identified Spears earlier in the investigation.
“Initially she had trouble explaining and describing what she saw,” Brooks answered.
Prickett asked how Spears’ answers during interrogation were “self-serving.”
Spears claimed he “had known Morgan for a couple of weeks and had hung out with him,” according to Brooks, but declined to confess to the murder.
No other witnesses were called.
Afterward, Waters kept the no bond conditions “by agreement,” but added that the circuit court may reassess bond for Spears at later date.
Alleged sexual assault
Nancy Spears, wiped away tears outside the courtroom after the hearing. She was accompanied by her daughter, Jessilee Campbell.
Spears was visibly shaken by the day’s proceedings. She claimed to have met the deceased victim, Morgan, in a south Huntsville parking lot when she was 13.
She alleged that he had then “raped, beat, and robbed” her. According to Spears, that was the only interaction she ever had with Morgan.
Prior to Morgan’s death, Spears discovered that her son had been hanging around Morgan and, according to Brooks’ affidavit, then told the defendant about the alleged rape.
“This has reopened a trauma for me as an abuse and rape victim” she said. “I’m having to relive it now.”
Campbell said their family, which includes the defendant’s half-brother, Ryan Fitzgerald, is very close.
“We’re all each other has,” she said.
Both Campbell and Spears were shocked by the defendant’s condition when he was released from Bibb County Correctional Facility in December of last year, they said.
According to a sentencing order filed in Madison County Circuit Court in February 2019, Charles Spears pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with 380 days credit for time served in jail.
“He came home from prison with fentanyl, heroin, and marijuana in his pockets,” Campbell said.
Spears tried to get help for her son, whom she said had deteriorated due to the extent of drug use in the prison.
She took him to a methadone clinic and said she had stayed close to him since his release.
Spears said that, while she doesn’t claim her son murdered Morgan, she does “pray for leniency” for her son.