Two involved in 2009 murder enter pleas, get 20 years for manslaughterPublished 12:04am Wednesday, July 18, 2012
NATCHEZ — The wife of the Lagrange Road man who was beaten to death at his home in August 2009 said she is looking to God to help her move on with her life now that her husband’s murder case is closed.
The Natchez couple originally charged with the murder of Annie Bell Felton’s husband, Clark Felton Jr., a 61-year-old cancer patient, entered guilty pleas to lesser charges of manslaughter in an Adams County courtroom Tuesday.
Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson sentenced Lizzie Ann Madison, 41, and Paul McBeth Green, 42, to 20 years with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with full credit for the three years both have served.
Annie Bell Felton said she was neither happy or upset by the outcome of the case because, she said, she had already decided the fate of Madison and Green was not up to her.
“I prayed about this matter, and I knew I had to put this in the authority’s hands and let God do the rest,” she said. “My heart still goes out to the people who did the crime, only they know what really happened.
“I trust God to help me deal with the decision that was made.”
District Attorney Ronnie Harper said with the lack of physical evidence and potentially no credible witnesses, he was “very much concerned” about the evidence the state had in the cases.
“We had some real problems with the evidence in these cases, and, to be perfectly honest, what we had had gotten worse,” Harper said.
Annie Bell Felton discovered her husband was face up in a pool of blood in the dining room, and an autopsy revealed that Felton had received sharp trauma to his head, neck and throat before ultimately bleeding to death. Investigators said they believe the vicious beating was part of a robbery.
Felton has said she knew something was wrong when she arrived at the residence and the door wasn’t chain-locked. When his cane wasn’t next to the couch where he kept it, she has said she became even more suspicious.
Physical evidence found in and nearby Felton’s Lagrange Road house included the suspected murder weapon — Felton’s own cane— and his cell phone, as well as an empty bottle of Christian Brothers brandy, investigators said at the time.
The cell phone’s back was reportedly found under Felton when his body was moved, and the battery was discovered in Felton’s living room, ACSO Investigator Ricky Stevens has said.
The bottom of the cane — the suspected murder weapon — was found at the house, but other parts of it were found along with the cell phone and the empty bottle in a nearby wooded area, Stevens has said.
Investigator Robert Brown testified about the investigation leading up to the arrest of Madison and Green, her boyfriend, at a preliminary hearing in September 2009.
On the night of Aug. 11, one day before Felton was discovered beaten to death in his home at 87 Lagrange Road, Madison reportedly showed up at the doorway of 109 Lagrange Road, hysterical and asking the resident to make a 911 call because her boyfriend had fallen on the roadway and had been hurt, Brown said.
Investigators have said they believed a botched robbery led to Felton’s death.
The bottom of the cane was found at the house, but other parts of it were found along with the cell phone and the empty bottle in a nearby wooded area, ACSO investigators said at the time of the crime.
Green and Madison were originally scheduled for trial in November 2011, but the trial was continued after a jury was picked.
Harper said Green and Madison were going to be tried separately.
At one time, Harper said he believed Green was going to plea and testify against Madison, but Harper said Green did not indicate he was going to do that at Green’s last plea setting hearing.
Without Green testifying against Madison, Harper said the only other witness the state had was a “jailhouse snitch.”
Harper said Madison’s cellmate, Tiffany Davis, said Madison admitted killing Felton to her. Harper said there was conflicting information between Davis’ account of Madison’s confession and Green’s testimony of what happened the night of Felton’s murder.
Harper said the conflicting accounts and Davis’ prior criminal record made him doubt her credibility and be hesitant to use her on the stand.
Other than the witnesses, Harper said the state had no fingerprints and some “very sketchy” circumstantial evidence. Madison and Green were believed to be in the area where the murder happened and in possession of the brandy Felton historically consumed and that could have come from Felton’s house, Harper said.
“With the evidence we had, we weren’t very convinced we were able to get them convicted (for murder), or get them convicted for manslaughter, for that matter,” Harper said. “We were very fortunate to get the pleas, in my opinion … and very relieved to get them to enter the pleas.”
Harper said he talked to Annie Bell Felton and other family members, and he said they were fully aware of the problems with the evidence and understood the reasoning behind the decision to accept the pleas.
Annie Bell Felton said after talking about the case, she knew she had to accept the decision so she can accept what happened to her husband.
“I have come to the conclusion that I just have to accept what happened, there is no way of changing it,” Felton said.
Annie Bell Felton and her husband were married 42 years, and she said she and her daughter, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren miss him dearly.
“We are going to work to overcome this situation, and I trust God to help us move on with our lives,” she said.