The one-year anniversary of the triple homicides on Guntersville’s Mulberry Street was last Saturday.
Prosecutors say it’s a highly unusual case, not just in the circumstances and the number of victims, but due to all the other developments such as parole reform that stemmed from the alleged crime.
These stories ran in the Advertiser-Gleam in the past year and were directly related to the case:
July 13, 2018 – Guntersville Police discover the bodies of 74-year-old Marie Kitchens Martin and her 7-year-old grandson in her home at 2402 Mulberry Street, behind Burger King. An hour later, the body of Martha Reliford, 65, was discovered in her home across the street.
July 17, 2018 – Guntersville Police announced that a homeless man, ex-con Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, 52, had been charged with capital murder in the triple homicide. He had spent most of his adult life in prison. Police had worked around the clock to make the case.
July 21, 2018 – Judge Tim Riley appointed two attorneys to represent Spencer, Robert Tuten of Huntsville, who has handled a number of capital cases over the years, and Jerry Baker of Albertville.
July 25, 2018 – District Attorney’s Chief Investigator John Young explained that Spencer had walked of from the Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham and had come to Guntersville, where he slept in ditches and on park benches. Young said the motive in the killings was money.
Aug. 1, 2018 – Two additional pieces of evidence are found in the case following a search by the Guntersville Police Department, Guntersville Rescue Squad and Alder Springs Volunteer Fire Department. It was the third such search that had been done to find items related to the Mulberry Street murders.
Aug. 4, 2018 – Franklin County district attorney Joey Rushing saud Jimmy O’Neal Spencer should never have received parole. He said the release came as a surprise to him. He’d fought to keep Spencer locked up 5 years earlier. He said he only learned of the parole following the triple homicides in Guntersville.
Aug. 8, 2018 – Originally charged with 4 counts of capital murder for the 3 deaths on Mulberry Street, 3 more charges were added against Jimmy O’Neal Spencer for the same crimes. He was indicted on 7 counts in all, with each related to the deaths.
Sept. 5, 2018 – A Huntsville TV station reported that Jimmy O’Neal Spencer was “incorrectly categorized” upon his release from prison, according to a report from the office of the Alabama Attorney General. He was classified as “non-violent,” so his past victims were not alerted of his release as they should have been.
Sept. 8, 2018 – Jimmy O’Neal Spencer pled not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to all the charges against him. In court, he asked for the indictment to be read aloud because his attorney said he was unable to read it because his education is only to an eight-grade level.
April 17, 2019 – Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that he was supporting legislation to reform the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. The legislation was proposed by the Attorney General’s Office and was sponsored by Sen. Cam Ward and Rep. Connie Rowe. It was a direct result of the Guntersville murders.
May 15, 2019 – The Alabama House of Representatives passed a parole reform bill.
May 29, 2019 – Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the State of Alabama would pay $1 million, the maximum damages that may be awarded under state law, to the families of Jimmy O’Neal Spencer’s three alleged murder victims.