By Patrick McCreless

patrickm@cullmantimes.com

An area man scheduled to stand trial next week for the alleged sexual abuse, torture and sodomy of several children could receive a reprieve from judgment.

District Attorney Wilson Blaylock said the case of Howard James Hagemore, 41 could be postponed for an indefinite amount of time due to the defendant’s statement that he is unfit to stand trial.

“There is a motion waiting to be ruled on ... he is waiting on a mental evaluation,” Blaylock said. “The judge will rule on that probably Monday.”

If the judge agrees to the mental evaluation, Hagemore will be sent to the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility in Tuscaloosa for observation. Psychiatrists will then determine if he is fit to stand trial.

“If the judge doesn’t see any need, then it (trial) would go forward,” Blaylock said.

Hagemore’s case was placed on the Feb. 25 court docket for the 32nd Judicial District Circuit Court. Hagemore was indicted by a Cullman County grand jury in January after a four-month long investigation by the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office.

“The investigation began after one of the victims made the allegations,” said Cullman Sheriff Tyler Roden. “After the investigation began, additional victims were identified.”

Roden added that all the victims were children.

The grand jury indicted Hagemore on charges of sexual abuse of a child less than 12-years-old, sexual torture, sexual abuse in the second degree, sodomy in the second degree, sodomy in the first degree and sexual abuse in the first degree.

Roden said Hagemore allegedly committed the crimes over several years.

“He was doing it at various locations,” Roden said.

Hagemore is currently free on a $50,000 bond.

Though Blaylock may not have the chance to prosecute Hagemore during this court term, there are still around nine other alleged sexual abusers to choose from on the court docket. Blaylock said the large amount of sexual abuse cases on the docket are due to the tireless efforts of the Child Advocacy Center of Cullman and local law enforcement.

“With knowledgeable law enforcement and reporting to the advocacy center, all that adds up to the prosecution of these cases,” he said.

Sodomy in the first degree and sexual torture are Class A felonies, punishable by as much as life in prison. Sexual abuse in the first degree is a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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