Pair charged in Crenshaw County homicides

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Two men from Ramer, Ala., have been charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of a grocery store owner and an employee in the Highland Home Community in Crenshaw County.

Antonio Jamar McNear, 19, and John Lewis Thomas, Jr., 20, appeared before District Judge Tom Sport in the Crenshaw County Courthouse Friday afternoon to hear the formal charges that have been brought against them after the Wednesday afternoon robbery and shootings at Kelley’s Grocery Market.

Both have been charged with three counts of capital murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of robbery, first degree.

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At approximately 4 p.m. Wednesday, an E-911 call came in from Betty Kelley, the store owner, reporting the shootings. When law enforcement arrived, they found the bodies of Kelley’s son, Charles Doug Kelley, 49, and Patricia Anne Barginere, 48, both with gunshot wounds to the head.

Mrs. Kelley stated to officials that as she fled the scene, one of the subjects fired two shots in her direction, but both shots struck her residence.

According to District Attorney John Andrews, the vehicle, a maroon and white Chevrolet truck, was stopped by a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy around 8 p.m. Wednesday. One of the suspects was in the vehicle; the other suspect was picked up three to four hours later.

Andrews added that the two men, both black males, were reportedly friends from the Ramer community and were not related.

Both McNear and Thomas were placed in the Crenshaw County jail without bond.

“This is getting to be a lawless world,” Andrews said at Friday’s press conference.

The last murders that took place in Crenshaw County were in 2002, when Westley Devon Harris shot to death six of his girlfriend’s family members.