Three women who said they spent time with Jeff McKelvey and Henry Pyle in the weeks following the murders of Denie and Pam Tucker testified Wednesday morning in McKelvey’s capital murder trial.
All three admitted to exchanging sex for crack cocaine, money and sometimes a place to stay. They worked out of a “trap house” in Birmingham. A trap house is a house where dealers and users meet to sell, buy and use illegal drugs, especially crack cocaine.
Kim Dollar said she was addicted to the drug but has been clean for almost two years. She met McKelvey during what she called her worst time of addiction.
She said a friend called and asked her if she wanted to make some money. She and “Spanky” went to a motel near the airport to meet McKelvey and Pyle, who had separate rooms. She was there to meet McKelvey, and while she stayed with him he gave her drugs, cash, food and took her shopping. There were stacks of money under the mattress in his room, she said.
Dollar said she saw stones in the room that looked like they had been removed from jewelry.
McKelvey offered her a pair of earrings but she didn’t particularly like them and declined them. She said he later told her he pawned them for $500.
After taking Pyle to St. Vincent Hospital due to his hallucinations, McKelvey left the area and invited her to go with him. She said she didn’t want to go to Decatur because she “wouldn’t be able to get high there.”
Donna “Spanky” Aaron said she is a drug addict and had been straight for 2-3 days prior to her testimony. She has lived in the same Birmingham neighborhood for 10 years, prostituting herself to support her habit. She came to know Pyle and McKelvey from being at the trap house at the same time as them.
She spent a couple of days with Pyle at the motel before leaving after a disagreement with him. She said the men had thousands of dollars worth of crack cocaine and lots of money. Pyle told her to count his money at one point, and she counted almost $10,000. She also saw a black “glob” that Pyle told her was gold they tried to melt down but messed up.
Pyle gave her a necklace and a ring. She said she gave the ring to someone to pawn for her at some point. She was wearing the necklace in December 2015 when Marshall County investigators first arrived to talk with her.
Bari Joy “BJ” Williams said she is a crack cocaine addict who relapsed after 15 years in recovery. She spent time with McKelvey in two different motels.
She wanted a pair of earrings McKelvey showed her, but he asked her to go with him to the pawn shop to sell them because she had an I.D. She said she made up a story about the earrings to tell the pawnbroker so they could sell them. They received $400-$500 for the earrings.
She said McKelvey drove her and her friends around in his truck when Pyle was in jail for shoplifting. They nicknamed his truck the “crack taxi.”
All three women said Pyle was known as “Hustle Man” in their circle. They said he appeared to be the one in charge with McKelvey being the follower.
In other testimony, Hope Tucker, wife of the Tuckers’ son Scott, identified earrings in evidence as those of her mother-in-law.
Brian Tucker, son of the deceased couple, said he gave his mother a necklace when his oldest daughter was born. She was the Tuckers’ first grandchild. The necklace has his daughter’s birthstone in it. He said his mother still owned it at the time of her death. He identified the necklace in evidence as the one he gave his mother.
Freddy Morales, Jr., a pawnbroker in Birmingham, was involved in the sale of the earrings Ms. Williams described. He identified McKelvey on a still photo taken from the shop’s camera. He also identified the sale ticket with a transaction date of Sept. 22, 2015. The defendant’s name was signed on the signature line of the ticket.
Michael Lusk owned Sand Mountain Pawn for 22 years and bought, sold, repaired and worked on jewelry. He knew the Tuckers almost 15 years. They both shopped with him and sometimes bought jewelry. Lusk said he considered them both business friends and personal friends.
Mr. Tucker liked to buy unique jewelry for his wife, Lusk said. He purchased a pair of antique earrings, and a couple of months later, she brought them in for modifications. Lusk identified the earrings in evidence as that particular pair.
Rhonda Brewer of Cullman, a cousin of Mr. Tucker, met the couple along with visiting out-of-state relatives at the Cracker Barrel. She was sitting on the front porch waiting for the others to arrive when Mrs. Tucker walked up. She asked if she was alone, and Mrs. Tucker said her husband was still in the parking lot with somebody out there asking for money.
Ms. Brewer observed Mr. Tucker with his wallet open talking with a man outside his truck and another man inside the truck. When Mr. Tucker joined them on the porch she said his wife asked how much he gave them. After he told her, there was no more discussion at dinner about the incident.
Jimmy Miller, an investigator with the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office, testified of an encounter he had with McKelvey in August 2015, a month before the Tuckers’ deaths.
Miller was in Cullman at a gas station by the interstate when he said McKelvey walked up to him asking for money. He said his truck broke down and he needed the money for a part to fix it.
Miller said there was another man in the passenger seat, who he knows now was Pyle. He did not give him money.