New evidence revealed during hearing for teen charged with parents' murder

Published: Sep. 28, 2016 at 10:21 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2016 at 11:11 AM CDT
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ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The 17-year-old suspect who was charged with fatally shooting both his parents in the head was back in court Wednesday.

Elmore County District Judge Glenn Goggans found probable cause and bound Jesse "Madison" Holton's case over to the grand jury. Goggans also denied reducing Holton's bond, currently set at $1 million for two murder counts.

Holton laughed while waiting for his preliminary hearing, and showed no emotion when attorneys and an investigator discussed the gruesome deaths of his parents, April and Mike Holton.

Elmore County Sheriff's Office Investigator Richard Brouillard testified that Holton was handcuffed behind his back when his parents called a deputy to investigate drug paraphernalia, left behind from a party Madison Holton threw over the weekend.

According to testimony, the deputy arrived at 4:28 p.m. on Sept. 11, took pictures of the drug paraphernalia and left the residence at 4:48 p.m. Both of Holton's parents walked the deputy to his car, while Holton remained inside. The parents asked the deputy about filing a petition for Madison Holton to go before a juvenile judge and, according to the deputy, were getting along very well.

Madison told investigators that after the deputy left, he was still handcuffed and his parents went into the master bedroom and began arguing. That's when his mother called out for help. Holton said he kicked down the door, but Brouillard said there were no signs the door was kicked down. Holton also stated he grabbed two cell phones, opened the front door and ran to the neighbor's house to get help.

"Based on the officer's testimony, the officer believes the handcuffs came off at some point," said Chief Deputy District Attorney CJ Robinson.

A preliminary forensic report ruled Mike Holton's death a homicide. The report showed the bullet, that killed him, entered the back left side of his head and exited through the front right. Mike Holton was right handed, and the trajectory of the bullet would have yielded to holding the gun with his left hand, which would make it difficult to pull the trigger.

"We don't know who fired the shots," explained Madison Holton's attorney, Tom Azar.  "We just know we didn't fire the shots."

The investigator testified that after Holton went next door for help, he was still handcuffed. The neighbor went to check on Holton's parents while Madison Holton smoked a cigarette. The neighbor knocked on the door, but only heard April Holton's voice faintly calling for help. When he walked inside, both had been shot in the head.

The investigator stated the scene was bloody, including the family handgun used to shoot Holton's parents. Holton had a few dots on the front of his shirt, but no real signs of blood.

"You've got someone who killed two parental figures; we are trying to figure out why, and figure what happened," Robinson said. "There are questions we may never have the answer to, but we are going to try to answer as many of those questions as possible."

Brouillard also testified that recorded jail phone calls captured Holton asking females if they wanted to sleep with a murderer. When asked if the state would consider that as a confession, Robinson said he had not personally heard the tapes.

Azar credits the statements to Holton being a 17-year-old, in a frightening environment.

"I don't doubt that the investigator said he listened to the recorded telephone conversations that Madison made statements that were bold statements," Azar stated. "I simply attribute that to his youth and being in a scary place where he's trying to stick his chest out and look a lot stronger than he is to the defendants he's incarcerated with."

Robinson believes the evidence is on his side, and wouldn't comment on other evidence currently being processed by forensics. Robinson said his office maintains Holton is a danger to society and will be tried as an adult.

Azar maintains Holton's innocence, stating the evidence in the preliminary hearing was circumstantial at best.

"It's the assumption that since Madison lived at that house and he didn't get shot, he must be the shooter," Azar said.

Azar does not plan to appeal the judge's decision not to reduce Holton's bond. Holton's case will likely go before a grand jury in 2017.

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