ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A two year-long nightmarish ordeal is over for an Elmore County teenager who was charged with murdering his parents in 2016.
Madison Holton was scheduled to stand trial this week for double murder, but on Monday the district attorney dropped the charges due to lack of evidence.
Simply watching Holton, it’s easy to forget he’s not a typical 19-year-old who’s suffered unthinkable loss and spent his senior year in jail on a $1 million bond.
Thursday, instead of sitting in the courtroom, Holton sat on his front porch swing where he enjoyed his newfound freedom.
“I prayed for it, but I wasn’t expecting it,” Holton said as he smiled. “I’ve been out of jail since December, but now I’m free and I actually feel free. I’m not looking over my shoulder worrying about what could happen. I feel safe.”
That’s a stark adjustment from the life he was thrust into at an impressionable age.
“I was kind of institutionalized, I grew up in jail,” said Holton as he took a deep breath. “It was hard - it was really hard to deal with being 17 and feeling like no one was for me.”
As it turned out, Holton wasn’t alone. His mother’s family stood by his side, including her twin brothers who became outspoken advocates for Holton, coincidentally both are sworn police officers.
Mike Evans was serving as an officer in California when he received news of his sister’s death. He promptly moved home to fight for his nephew. Evans was the first to bring evidence to light that proved Holton didn’t pull the trigger.
During those 15 months in the Elmore County Jail, Holton also found support where he least expected.
“Randy, I won’t say his last name, but he was my cell mate and was a big help to me, almost like a big brother,” Holton recalled. “He helped me adapt to the jail and helped me grow up.”
And most importantly, Holton says Randy helped him find his faith and develop a relationship with God.
“Randy helped me with my spirituality, and give credit to Wayne Dozier for passing out those Celebrate Recovery Bibles,” explained Holton. “He gave it to me on my sixth day of being incarcerated. I still have it to this day, it’s sitting on my dresser.”
While Holton has every reason to have a chip on his shoulder, he’s turning the page.
“There’s something to be mad about, but why be mad,” Holton asked. “If you’re mad all the time you’re not living life.”
Holton was quick to condemn the negative comments about law enforcement on social media following the dismissal of his charges.
“I don’t appreciate that,” said he stated firmly. “There are a select few police that I hold a grudge against, they know what they did wrong, and that’s that. I just don’t want people to be mad at the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office.”
Holton’s now focused on making up for lost time, working to earn a high school diploma with his sights set on law school to be a light for those in crisis.
“I want to find that person who’s going through the same thing that I went through, and I want to help them and defend them,” Holton said.
Holton’s next goal is to reconnect with his brothers and to have a relationship again.
“I love them and I miss them,” he said, “but I want them to reach out to me before I reach out to them. I don’t know how they feel.”
It’s been a journey riddled with disappointment, heartbreak, and now hope, but Holton is certain of one thing. “I’m at peace.”