Family disputes evidence in case of teen accused in parents' murder

Updated: Aug. 31, 2017 at 6:45 PM CDT
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Jesse "Madison" Holton. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Jesse "Madison" Holton. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Jesse "Madison" Holton has been in the Elmore County Detention Facility for nearly a year, charged with double murder for the fatal shooting his parents.

Holton's uncle, Michael Evans is breaking his silence about this case, and despite losing his sister to a violent crime, he believes Madison is innocent.

"The first thing we were told when my brother arrived on the scene was Michael shot my sister and then killed himself," said Evans, citing his brother-in-law Michael Holton had shot his sister April, then turned the gun on himself. "They let Madison leave the residence. Then they called and said they needed to bring him back."

Evans was working as a police officer in California when he received the call his sister had been murdered.  By the time he made it to Alabama, his 17-year-old nephew was the prime suspect.

"It never made any sense," Evans said.

Madison Holton's father, Michael Holton, called deputies to his house on September 11, 2016, after finding evidence that Madison had a party.  When the deputy arrived, Madison had been handcuffed by his father.  Not long after, another call came in from the neighbor that Michael and April Holton had been shot in the head.  According to investigators at the time of the shooting, The State Department of Forensics ruled Michael Holton's death a homicide, due to where he was shot, something Evans strongly disputes.

"Apparently there's no blood or DNA on him at all or on any of his clothing," Evans said. "They didn't find any of his DNA in the bedroom.  I know the gun as covered in blood, so if the gun was covered in blood there had to be blood on him.  At the prelim, if I recall, the deputy that spoke that day said there's no evidence that he tried to clean up, no evidence he changed his clothes."

District Attorney Randall Houston couldn't discuss these details with us, but at the time of the shooting Madison told investigators his parents went in the bedroom and began arguing.  He went to the neighbor's house, still handcuffed, denying any role in the murders.

For Evans, this is a murder-suicide.

"As a police officer looking at all this evidence, what does it tell you?" Evans asked. "It tells me Michael did this, there's not a doubt in mind Madison had nothing to do with this murder."

Evans cited domestic unrest between his sister and Holton, and court documents show the couple was going through a divorce.

"A serial killer that's killed multiple people would have a hard time to get out of handcuffs, killing 2 able-bodied individuals, walking away without an injury, a speck of blood, or any other evidence on their body that shows they were at the scene of the crime," Evans said. "This is a 17-year-old kid that's never killed anyone in his life, now all of a sudden he's able to do all of this?"

Two weeks ago, Madison's bond was lowered from $1 million to $300,000. Houston says the case is expected to go before the next Elmore County grand jury.

If Madison's case receives a no-bond from the grand jury or he's acquitted by an Elmore County jury, Evans wants officials to explain the evidence they have to show Madison is innocent.

Evans fears the court of public opinion will never believe his nephew wasn't involved in the murders.

"Some people will never believe he didn't do this," Evans said. "You could show a video showing that he didn't do it, there's people in this community that wouldn't believe it because in the media since day one, they have portrayed this as a crime Madison committed."

Madison remains in the Elmore County Detention Facility. He turned 18 last week.

Evans hesitates to imagine what impact this year spent in jail will have on the rest of his life.  Despite the time that's passed, Madison remains in good spirits when speaking to family, and has requested to earn his GED since he missed his senior year.

"He said 'If you can bail me out, call the Board and see if I can do it online and finish my GED,'" Evans said. "He talks about wanting to join the military or work in corrections.  That's what we try to do when we talk to him on the phone, just keep talking about planning for the future."

Due to grand jury secrecy laws, the state cannot confirm the next time a grand jury will convene in Elmore County.

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