Attorney: Alleged Walmart parking lot killer was hallucinating

·2 min read

Sep. 13—A man charged with capital murder for allegedly driving his vehicle into a woman at a Decatur Walmart was hallucinating at the time of the incident, according to his lawyer.

Preston Lamar Nelson, 33, of Madison, is accused of intentionally backing his vehicle over Sherry Sain, 64, who was walking in the parking lot of Walmart Neighborhood Market at 1203 Sixth Ave. S.E. about 8:45 p.m. Aug. 25. Nelson is in the Morgan County Jail in lieu of $500,000 cash bond.

Patrick Caver, Nelson's appointed attorney, filed a motion Monday requesting a court-ordered mental examination of his indigent client.

"The defendant has a history of mental health issues since his early teenage years," Caver wrote. "At the time of the alleged offense, he has very limited memory of the day and was experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations."

Caver asked that a psychologist or psychiatrist evaluate Nelson to determine whether he is capable of assisting in his defense and to render an opinion on his mental condition at the time of the alleged killing. Caver also asked that a jury make a determination of Nelson's competency to stand trial.

"He lacks the ability to understand the trial procedures or consequences of the legal process," Caver wrote. "It's in the defense attorney opinion that he is unable to assist in his criminal defense."

According to a witness, Nelson had his Mercury Grand Prix in a handicapped spot outside the store and, as Sain walked toward her car, he accelerated his vehicle in reverse, pinning her against another vehicle.

A witness said Nelson returned to Sain's body.

"He got out of the car and came running back up here, kneels down beside (Sain) and takes his hands and rakes her blood all over his face," Amy Brown said on the night of the incident. "It was unreal, the look in his eyes. His eyes were so huge."

Nelson's car stalled heading north at the store's Eighth Street exit across from a nearby pharmacy. Police said it "was stopped by a civilian at which point his vehicle became inoperable."

Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn arrived at the scene and pronounced Sain dead at 9:21 p.m. Aug. 25. He said Sain died of blunt force trauma.

Sain had lived in Huntsville for 15 years, but before then was a longtime resident of Decatur. She was an owner of North Alabama Mortuary Express. She was survived by a daughter, a son, two grandchildren, two brothers and a sister.

Decatur police have said there was no known connection between Sain and Nelson before her death.

A preliminary hearing in Nelson's capital murder case is scheduled for Tuesday, and his attorney has asked the court to approve the cost of hiring a court reporter for the hearing.

eric@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.