Controversy over murder suspect release

Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin recommended the chance for bail because of medical reasons.
Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin recommended the chance for bail because of medical reasons.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin took office more than 18 years ago, he swore to uphold the law and keep the bad guys locked up in jail.

"That's my job," said Franklin.

The high sheriff says that oath hasn't changed. But in a rare move, Sheriff Franklin recommended that capital murder suspect Paul Norman Jones have a chance to make a $25,000 bail. Jones did by paying only a fraction of that amount.

As part of the deal Jones' son took him away immediately to be admitted to a V-A hospital in Arlington, Virginia. The move didn't sit well with Jerry and Linda Ingram.

"He (Jones) shot Jerry first," said Mrs. Ingram.

Both were shot and their neighbor 85-year old Frank Barrett murdered allegedly at the hands of Paul Jones over a property dispute in May in Wetumpka.

"I want someone to explain to me how someone charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of capital murder can be released," said Jerry Ingram.

"I understand those folks. I would be mad, too," said Sheriff Franklin.

In this case Sheriff Franklin says it made sense given the facts of the case even though capital murder suspects in Alabama rarely get a chance to post bond.

Paul Jones has been diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, potentially fatal to an 80 year old, according to Jones' Montgomery attorney.

Since the county jail is responsible for the health of its inmates, a medical emergency could easily eat up $300,000 out of a total budget of $2 million dollars at the Elmore County Sheriff's office.

"The financial burden is enormous,' said Franklin who also pointed out the jail doesn't have the medical resources to deal with major health issues.

Also coming into play is the balance of public safety.

"I don't think Mr. Jones is a flight risk. We know where Mr. Jones is. We can go get Mr. Jones anytime we need Mr. Jones," said Franklin.

In the end it wasn't Sheriff Bill Franklin's call. The judge ultimately decided, a ruling Franklin felt comfortable with.

"I'm at peace with it," said Franklin.

Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston says he didn't agree with the bail but understood the circumstances. In the deal Jones agreed to stay out of Elmore, Montgomery and Autauga Counties.

Paul Jones could go to trial next summer if he survives his medical condition, according to his attorney.

Jones will turn 81 in February.

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