Twelve plead guilty



Since Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey took office, she has been working to clean up the backlog of cases that have been pending since she became District Attorney.

“We have 688 cases pending, but we are attempting to bring that down to 200 cases,” Casey said. “One thing I won’t do is dismiss cases, but we are trying to make the system work more quickly and efficiently.”

Casey’s efforts were recently successful when 12 people pleaded guilty and subsequently sentenced.

Christopher Persall, 37, of Birmingham was sentenced to 15 years in the Alabama Department of Corrections after pleading guilty to sexual abuse 1st and violating the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Persall was also ordered to pay a $3,000 fine, court costs, and $2,000 to the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission (ACVCC). The incident, sexual contact with a child less than 12 years of age, occurred in Hayden in 2009. In 2005, Persall had pled guilty to sexual abuse 1st in Shelby County and to federal charges of possession of child pornography. He served four years for the offense and was on parole for less than six months when he committed the crimes in Blount County.

Diana Richmond, 41, of Gardendale, was sentenced to one year in the Blount County Correctional Facility after she pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homi- cide, a Class A misdemeanor. On Oct. 29, 2011, Jeremy Newland was killed on Highway 160 when Richmond negligently operated her vehicle resulting in Newland’s death. Richmond was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $250 to the ACVCC, and restitution to the family of Jeremy Newland.

Justin Heitzman, 33, of Pell City, pleaded guilty to Facilitating the Travel of a Child for an Unlawful Sex Act. He was sentenced to 10 years split to serve one year and one day in the Alabama Department of Corrections, and three years on supervised probation. In September, Heitzman pleaded guilty to Rape 2nd in St. Clair County and was given the same sentence. He was ordered to pay court costs, a $2,500 fine, and $1,500 to the ACVCC. Heitzman will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

Lisa Johnson, 43, of Boaz, and Kerry McGill, 31, of Oneonta, both pleaded guilty to theft of property 2nd. Johnson was ordered to serve seven years and her sentence was split to serve seven months with three years of supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, court costs, $500 to the ACVCC, and $2,000 in restitution to the victim. McGill was ordered to serve two years, and his sentence was split to serve with the remainder on supervised probation. McGill will also have to pay $500 in fines and court costs, $500 to the ACVCC, and restitution to the victim.

Ronny Stallings, 22, of Remlap, was sentenced to five years and ordered to pay court costs, a $2,500 fine, $500 to the ACVCC, and $250 in restitution to the victim after he pleaded guilty to theft of property 1st.

Robert Parr, 22, of Georgia, was sentenced to seven years for receiving stolen property 1st, resisting arrest, and attempting to elude. He was ordered to pay a total of $3,500 in fines, $500 to the ACVCC, $1,590.69 in restitution to the victim, and court costs.

Clifford Melcher, 46, of Hayden, pleaded guilty to assault 2nd and received a sentence of 5 years. He was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, court costs, $564 in restitution to the victim, and $500 to the ACVCC.

Amanda Sims, 28, of Albertville, was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to promoting prison contraband and burglary 2nd. Sims was ordered to pay a total of $3,500 in fines, $1,250 to the ACVCC, $1,536.50 in restitution to the victim, and court costs.

Christopher Stone, 40, of Hanceville, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to serve five years. Stone was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $250 to the ACVCC, a $1,000 Drug Demand Reduction Fee, and court costs.

James Pate, 31, of Cleveland, entered a plea of guilty to burglary 3rd and received of sentence of five years. Pate was ordered to pay a $1,500, $500 to the ACVCC, restitution to the victim, and court costs.

Jason King, 24, of Boaz, pleaded guilty to burglary 3rd and was sentenced to five years. He was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, $500 to the ACVCC, restitution to the victim, and court costs.