91-year-old beaten, murder suspect faces jury

On a cool spring night in 2019 Dothan police arrived at a simple yet well-maintained home in response to a 911 call.
Murder victim Mable Fowler in a photo on display at Wiregrass Angel House.
Murder victim Mable Fowler in a photo on display at Wiregrass Angel House.(Wiregrass Angel House | WTVY)
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:15 AM CDT
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UPDATE:

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Due to the injury of a crucial witness early Monday, this case has been delayed until October 31.

ORIGINAL:

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - On a cool spring night in 2019, Dothan police arrived at a simple yet well-maintained home in response to a 911 call.

What they found was sickening—the bludgeoned body of 91-year-old Mable Fowler.

Her caretaker had gone to check on Fowler, who neither had been married nor had children.

In the days following, police charged a homeless man who Fowler paid for odd jobs.

Joe Nathan Duncan, who had done yard work for her, is implicated by surveillance video from a business directly across from her Hodgesville Road home.

That footage shows Fowler checking her mailbox, then Duncan going into her home.

But his trial that begins Monday is not open-and-shut, because the video does not capture the horror that occurred inside.

Prosecutors have work to do.

Houston County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Stanley must tie that video to other circumstantial evidence when Duncan’s trial begins on Monday.

This is a capital case, but Duncan may not face the death penalty because of his diminished intellectual capacity.

Houston County Circuit Judge Larry Anderson will likely rule on that issue Monday, relying on a U.S. Supreme Court decision to guide his decision.

Even if he allows the death penalty, it would be more appearance than punishment with Duncan 63-years-old and appeals usually taking decades.

The only other---and perhaps best option--is life without parole.

There is also the chance he could be found not guilty.

Duncan has an experienced legal team headed by Arthur Medley, who has vast experience in criminal cases.

He is aided by Jennifer Wilson, while Stanley is working in tandem with her boss---District Attorney Pat Jones.

A jury is expected to be seated on Monday, with opening arguments to follow.

Duncan has several prior arrests, including those for possessing illegal narcotics.

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