Court of Criminal Appeals upholds murder conviction of Athens man

Marian Accardi, The Decatur Daily, Ala.
·1 min read

Mar. 19—The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of Marty Gene Stafford, 32, who was convicted in Limestone County Circuit Court in August for the felony murder of an Athens man.

In announcing the decision, Attorney General Steve Marshall said the evidence at trial showed that on the evening of July 25, 2017, Stafford went to a home to rob Brenton Gatlin. During the robbery, Gatlin was shot in the neck by Stafford, who was later apprehended hiding behind some lumber next to a nearby house, and Gatlin died of his wounds, according to Marshall.

The trial of one of three defendants in the case, Kandes Lambert, is underway this week in Limestone County Circuit Court.

Marshall said Stafford admitted to Athens police that he entered a house to commit a robbery and engaged in a confrontation. Stafford, however, denied having a gun and insisted that he used his fists instead. Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones' office prosecuted the case and, according to Marshall, evidence was introduced in the form of messages via Facebook Messenger in which Stafford discussed in some detail his plan to rob Gatlin.

Stafford was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, and sought to have his conviction reversed on appeal.

The Attorney General's Criminal Appeals Division handled the case during the appeals process, arguing for the Court of Criminal Appeals to affirm Stafford's conviction. or 256-340-2438. Twitter @DD_MAccardi.