TALLADEGA -- A Talladega County jury of 11 women and three men was selected Monday to try Charles Andrew Joseph Hendrix, 27, of Birmingham, on capital murder charges in connection with the death of attorney Blake Lazenby in Sylacauga in 2011.
Calvin McCall “Boobie” Haynes, 34, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in the same case and is serving a life sentence. Haynes also testified against Ocie Lee Lynch, 34, who was convicted of capital murder in 2015 and was sentenced to life without parole.
Charges are still pending against Earnest James “L.A.” Files, Jeremy Cade and Teresa Taylor in connection with Lazenby’s death.
The indictment against Hendrix charges capital murder committed for monetary gain, capital murder as a result of a contract and capital murder during the course of a murder or a robbery. District Attorney Steve Giddens explained to the jury during his opening argument that each of the counts listed in the indictment were different ways to charge the same thing.
According to the case Giddens laid out in the state’s opening, Files had initially approached Haynes about killing Lazenby. Haynes then brought in Hendrix, Lynch and Cade. They were offered $40,000 to $45,000 to kill Lazenby “for his wife.”
There is some evidence Taylor was pretending to be Lazenby’s wife at the time. Lazenby and his actual wife, meanwhile, were locked in an epic divorce. Files and Geanne Lazenby had allegedly had a relationship of some sort, although Geanne has not been charged with any crime. However, when she was called as a state’s witness during Lynch’s trial, she invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.
Medical evidence presented at Lynch’s trial showed Lazenby was first grazed by at least three bullets before being stabbed. Lynch was armed with a gun and Hendrix with a knife, although Giddens indicated Hendrix threw the knife to Lynch when Lazenby didn’t die immediately.
They then allegedly robbed Lazenby of his wallet, phone and keys to his vehicle. The vehicle was driven to Tarrant and set on fire, only to be discovered by police shortly afterward.
Defense Attorney John Aaron asked the jurors to keep in mind that the defendant did not know the victim or where the victim lived, and has an IQ of 59. He has no prior history of violent behavior, Aaron said.
Testimony in the case resumes today at 8:30 a.m. in Circuit Judge Julian King’s courtroom. Both King and Circuit Judge Bo Hollingsworth had recused themselves from the case because they knew Lazenby, so retired Circuit Judge John Rochester is presiding over the case.
Because Hendrix’s IQ is so low, he will not be eligible for the death penalty if he is convicted. In his case, a capital murder conviction would carry an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury that convicted Lynch also voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty, but Rochester opted for life without parole instead, citing his lack of criminal history, military service and the fact that Haynes never faced the death penalty for his involvement. The Alabama Legislature, however, did away with the practice of judicial override in capital cases earlier this year....Read more