Shooters fired at victim’s mother

Published 3:55 pm Friday, September 5, 2008

Two men suspected of a double homicide in Highland Home also attempted to kill the mother of one of the victims, according to sworn statements.

At 4:01 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, an E-911 call came in from Betty Kelley, the owner of Kelley’s Grocery, reporting the shootings. When law enforcement arrived on the scene at 4:30 p.m., 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. She also heard one of them say, “There is another one.”

Antonio Jamar McNear, 19, and John Lewis Thomas, Jr., 20, both of Ramer, have been arrested and charged with three counts of capital murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of robbery, first degree.

In sworn statements, witnesses on the scene identified a Chevrolet truck, maroon and white in color, with a distinctive paint scheme that was occupied by two black males. One of the males was described as skinny with dreadlocks, and the other as short, with a heavy build. The truck was seen leaving the grocery store at a high rate of speed.

According to District Attorney John Andrews, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputy stopped a vehicle, driven by Thomas, matching the description at approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday. Thomas gave the name of Antonio Jamar McNear as the occupant in the vehicle earlier that day. McNear was picked up by law enforcement four hours later. Both subjects were then brought back to Crenshaw County for questioning.

During McNear’s interview he identified Thomas as being the shooter of Kelley and Barginere, according to the sworn statements. McNear also stated the weapon used in the shooting, a .38 caliber revolver, was at Thomas’s residence in Ramer. A search warrant was obtained and the weapon was recovered.

According to the deposition, the weapon recovered at Thomas’s residence was the weapon used in the shootings.

A second interview was conducted with Thomas on Aug. 28, where he admitted to participation in the robbery and he gave the location of the cash register taken from the store. The cash register was later recovered. Law enforcement also found what appeared to be blood on the passenger floor mat of the vehicle.

Appearing before District Judge Tom Sport last Friday afternoon, both McNear and Thomas were placed in the Crenshaw County jail without bond. McNear’s parents were present in the courtroom for the initial appearance.

The five felony charges being brought against McNear and Thomas includes two counts of capital murder, plus a third capital murder charge against each of the men for the killing of two or more individuals in an attempted robbery with the use of deadly force.

Andrews stated the Grand Jury would reconvene next in February, but he wasn’t sure if the case would be ready to go to trial at that time.

Funeral services for Kelley was held this past Sunday in Highland Home, and Barginere’s funeral services will be held at Highland Home School this Saturday.

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

Crenshaw County Sheriff Charles West thanked all of the law enforcement agencies that helped with the August 27th investigation, including the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenville Police Department, the Pike County Sheriff’s Office, the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office, and the Luverne Volunteer Fire Department.