Author: Gabriel Tynes

Supreme Court stays execution of Mobile cop killer Vernon Madison

The U.S. Supreme Court intervened in an execution Jan. 25, roughly 30 minutes before the state was scheduled to carry out the death sentence of 67-year-old Vernon Madison, convicted of the 1985 capital murder of Mobile Police Officer Julius Schulte. The temporary stay was ordered at around 5:30 p.m. to allow the court to review Madison’s claims of mental incompetency and question the legality of “judicial override;” the jury in Madison’s third trial recommended life in prison, but former Mobile County Judge Ferrell McRae imposed the death penalty. While Madison’s execution was briefly in limbo, Alabama Department of Corrections...

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CONTEST: Name the white squirrel of Spanish Plaza

The cards have been stacked against him, or her, since Day 1. Yet, in spite of daily threats from traffic, birds of prey and stray cats, the white squirrel of Spanish Plaza may be spotted by a discerning eye most likely in the morning and just before dusk, foraging with fellow eastern grey squirrels in the oaks of the plaza and neighboring Mobile Chamber of Commerce. Spotting a lone white squirrel, as it turns out, is exceedingly rare. Lagniappe was tipped off to this squirrel’s presence by Edith Gray, an administrative assistant in the Deputy Administrator’s Office for the...

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With latest act, Fairhope mayor accuses council of ‘usurping’ power

In a special-called meeting this morning, the Fairhope City Council bypassed Mayor Karin Wilson to sign a contract with a new city attorney, while also passing an additional resolution allowing the council to exercise similar authority over the mayor whenever they feel she isn’t being cooperative. According to Council President Jack Burrell, the meeting was called after Wilson indicated she would not sign a resolution passed by the Council Dec. 18 hiring Marcus McDowell for legal services. Longtime city attorney Marion “Tut” Wynne is retiring effective Dec. 31; McDowell is a collegue in the same law firm. In November,...

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Suspended Daphne teacher pleaded guilty to domestic misdemeanor in July

The Daphne Elementary School teacher suspended with pay in October and recommended for termination a month later by Baldwin Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler pleaded guilty to violating a protection from abuse order filed by his ex-wife over the summer and agreed to voluntarily enter an in-patient treatment facility, according to court records. “Coach” William “Billy” Joseph Davis, a PE teacher at Daphne Elementary, entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor July 19 in Baldwin County District Court, agreeing to a pre-trial diversion which included “in patient rehabilitation for mental health, no contact with victim” and “no contact with victim’s...

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One street in midtown where Republicans, Democrats, independents coexist

Democrats in Alabama these days are typically the ones who feel out of place. The state hasn’t endorsed a Democratic president since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and since Republicans took over the Legislature in 2010, more Democrats are feeling like small blue dots in an overwhelmingly red state. But the Senate election Dec. 12, which pits an unpopular Republican in Roy Moore against a moderate Democrat in Doug Jones, has the underdogs feeling emboldened. Perhaps nowhere is this as evident as in midtown Mobile, where Jones campaign signs are as ubiquitous as historical markers on housing facades. One street...

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Neediest family stays positive despite hardships

Renishia Franks has had her ups and downs. She was a standout student at Vigor High School, where she graduated with honors in 2011. She still displays the trophies she won as a member of the Wolves basketball team, along with a photo of herself on the freshman homecoming court. But lacking guidance, she quickly fell into ambivalence and casual drug use after high school. She briefly enrolled at Bishop State Community College before her first pregnancy, but with an unsupportive partner found higher education too difficult to pursue. More recently, with a second child nearing 4 years of...

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District attorney disputes report naming Mobile County as death penalty ‘outlier’

Last August, Harvard University’s Fair Punishment Project released a study naming Mobile County as one of 16 nationwide “outliers ” in death penalty cases — counties that imposed five or more death sentences between 2010 and 2015. In that time, the study noted, Mobile County (population 415,395) sentenced eight defendants to death, placing it on the list alongside such counties as Riverside in California (population 2.63 million), Maricopa in Arizona (population 4.16 million) and Clark in Nevada (population 2.11 million). But in the two years since, juries in Mobile County have placed another three capital murder convicts on death row,...

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Utilities manager disputes Baykeeper’s sewage spill estimate

At the conclusion of a tour of Daphne Utilities’ wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) on D’Olive Creek last month, General Manager Danny Lyndall pointed out one of the walls in an employee break room. It’s covered with about 20 awards from professional organizations. There are a few others piled up on a filing cabinet nearby. “We’re running out of room to hang them,” he said. There are awards for water quality, pollution control, distribution, recycling efforts and employee performance, among other things. When the plant works, Lyndall stressed, it’s one of the best in Alabama, if not the nation. But...

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