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August 19, 2008

Murder trial postponed

By Patrick McCreless

PATRICKM@CULLMANTIMES.COM

Though the Cullman murder trial for Tony Curtis Chapman is scheduled for Sept. 8, there is little chance the case will proceed as planned.

Cullman County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Roberts said the trial would likely be postponed due to delays in forensic evidence.

“We’re still waiting on some comparences with the autopsy,” Roberts said. “That’s the holdup.”

Forensic delays have postponed Chapman’s trial several times since October 2006, when he was charged with the murder of his wife, Mary Chapman.

Chapman’s defense attorney Steve Smith said the problem with the evidence delay stems from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

“Clearly it’s not Jeff’s (Roberts) fault the state is so backlogged,” Smith said. “They are just overworked and understaffed. I think both Jeff Roberts and I are looking forward to getting the forensics and seeing what they entail.”

The department of forensics closed its Huntsville office several months ago, which has caused further delays for cases around the state. Roberts noted however, that the department may soon reopen the office.

“I talked to forensics and they’re opening the Huntsville office in September,” Roberts said. “Hopefully that’ll speed things up.”

However, Roberts said forensics delays would not keep him from trying the case indefinitely.

“We’re going to try the case,” Roberts said. “I told the victim’s family under no circumstances would we not try the case. Juries in Cullman County need to make decisions in those cases.”

According to Cullman County Sheriff’s reports, investigators received a call on Oct. 5, 2006 of a possible murder at the Chapman residence, which was located in the Stouts Mountain community.

“The Hanceville Police Department was already on the scene,” said Lt. Phillip Lambert of the sheriff’s office. “We found Mrs. Chapman deceased. It appeared to be foul play. There was obvious trauma to the head.”

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